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Toronto embarks on 'hyper-local' strategy after reaching vaccine milestone

Tamara Dus, director of University Health Network Safety Services, administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Toronto on Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The City of Toronto has closed four of its mass vaccination sites as it pivots to a new “hyper-local” COVID-19 mobile vaccine campaign just as the number of new coronavirus cases rises across the city.

The City-run clinics at Carmine Stefano Community Centre, Malvern Community Recreation Centre, North Toronto Memorial Community Centre and Toronto Congress Centre administered their final doses of the vaccine on Sunday.

According to health officials, the four clinics combined to deliver more than 380,000 doses of the vaccine into the arms of Torontonians in some of the most vulnerable communities in high-priority neighbourhoods.

Staff at the clinics that have been shuttered will be redeployed to Toronto Public Health’s five mobile teams to support additional pop-up and mobile clinics that will focus on areas with lower vaccination rates.

“The new teams will significantly increase the City’s ability to bring vaccines directly to workplaces, faith groups, organizations and communities that experience barriers to vaccination and low vaccine uptake,” city officials said in a statement.

On Sunday, the city said 75 per cent of eligible residents 12-years and older have now received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. While Mayor John Tory applauded those numbers, he also cautioned that the fight against the virus is not over.

“This is still a cause of major concern,” said Tory. “The numbers are going up. Our seven day rolling as of August 6th was 42 new cases per day. As of August 18 that number has risen to 116. We have seen this before.”

The city has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days and since May 1, 98 per cent of patients hospitalized due to coronavirus were not fully vaccinated.

City-run clinics at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, Mitchell Field Arena, The Hangar and Cloverdale Mall will continue to operate on a modified schedule with a capacity to vaccinate 12,800 people on a weekly basis.