Seniors 80 years of age and older are among the eligible priority populations in East Toronto who may receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.
East Toronto Health Partners’ (ETHP) mobile vaccination team is bringing the COVID-19 vaccine to East Toronto community members where they are. The strategy is a key pillar of ETHP’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan for East Toronto, which was announced on March 1.
This week, the team operated mobile vaccination clinics for eligible priority populations in a variety of different settings and locations, including in seniors’ congregate buildings, shelters and a primary care office. This work is a continuation of the mobile vaccination pilot launched in February by ETHP and two other Ontario Health Teams (OHT).
“We are learning the nuances of running clinics in different settings and with different populations while we have a more limited supply. This helps ensure that, when the vaccines arrive in larger quantities, we can quickly roll them out across our community, ” says Phillip Anthony, project manager for Michael Garron Hospital’s (MGH) COVID-19 Outreach Team, and a member of ETHP. “Each shelter, congregate setting and pop-up has its own style of clinic catered to the needs of that population.”
Collaboration and community engagement key to vaccine uptake
Outreach to these locations and populations is a collaborative effort between ETHP member organizations. It has involved engaging with communities in multiple languages ahead of time to instill confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine and secure uptake for vaccinations among eligible priority populations.
Settings for mobile vaccinations in East Toronto were selected in consultation with Ontario Health based on criteria set forth in the Ontario government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Plan. These settings include buildings with a high proportion of adults 80 years of age or older and settings with higher rates of COVID-19, congregate care and shared accommodations. Eligible residents are contacted directly and offered vaccine appointments.
Over the next two weeks, ETHP’s mobile vaccination team plans to visit 10 seniors’ congregate settings, 12 shelters, two community health centres and one primary care clinic to offer COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents. In total, the team expects to vaccinate more than 2,000 eligible residents who are aged 80 or over or experiencing homelessness.
Since beginning its vaccination strategy, ETHP’s mobile vaccination team has completed first-dose vaccinations at 11 seniors’ congregate buildings in East Toronto. This is in addition to the 22 long-term care and high-risk retirement homes in East York where vaccinations were completed by the team earlier this year.
A ‘senior-centric’ vaccination experience
During the mobile vaccination pilots, ETHP’s mobile vaccination team is trialing a model for dedicated vaccination clinics in community health centres and primary care offices for clients 80 years of age or older who live independently in the community.
Dr. Tia Pham, physician lead at the South East Toronto Family Health Team (SETFHT) and a member of ETHP on behalf of the East Toronto Family Practice Network (EasT-FPN), has been eager to push forward with vaccinations in all patients who are over 80 years old in a patient-friendly manner.
“Seniors have been at the highest risk during this pandemic. Because of this, we have set up both mobile vaccination clinics as well as advocated for our well-known family practices to provide a ‘senior-centric’ vaccination experience to make the registration and vaccination process as easy and barrier-free as possible,” she says. “The staffing model, clinic flow and appointment registration are set up in such a way to give seniors the space, time and consultation they need to comfortably receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a trusted, caring setting.”
In the coming weeks, ETHP will work to expand vaccinations for adults 80 years of age and older to additional locations in East Toronto. Adults 80 years of age or older are encouraged to express their interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine by pre-registering with ETHP. Please click here for more information.