The Middlesex London Health Unit and its partners officially opened the region’s second COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges on Thursday.
The opening comes the region expands its vaccination plan, including who can get the vaccine.
Medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie said as of Thursday they have vaccinated approximately 28,000 people to date in the Middlesex London region. The health unit and its partners are currently vaccinating about 1,000 people per day, a number which Mackie said will increase with the opening of the second site.
At full capacity, health officials say the Mount Brydges Vaccination Clinic will be able to vaccinate 550 people per day, depending on supply.
The opening of the second clinic is a key step to helping serve the rural community within the Middlesex London region, Mackie said.
“Rural access is increasingly important for this region, we have a large and important rural population so this will give more access, and as a larger vaccine supply becomes able we get that into arms as soon as possible.”
Mayor Of Strathroy-Caradoc, Joanne Vanderheeyden was excited about the role her community is playing in the vaccine effort.
“It’s in the middle of Middlesex County and it’s accessible in many ways. You can get here by highways, and the building itself is accessible so this the perfect spot to have this and we are really grateful it’s here,” she said.
The first clinic, at the Western Fair Agriplex, has been operating since December.
As the vaccine supply expands in the region the health unit has expanded the parameters of who can get the vaccine to additional groups like essential caregivers.
Middlesex Centre resident Anne Doherty, who is an essential caregiver to two parents who are living at a long-term care home, will be the first in the expanded group to receive the vaccine.
Doherty said she is honoured to be the first one to be vaccinated and that she is doing it for her loved ones.
“Every extra safety net helps, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t do it.”
Doherty, whose mom is almost 90 and whose dad is 94, said being able to visit them helps with their mental health.
Her parents have been married 74 years and have both received a COVID-19 vaccine.
“It should be no decision, you just do it for your kids, for yourself, why not?” Doherty said.
As case numbers in the region have been consistently low for several weeks but Mackie warns it’s important to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible with the spread of new variants of the virus.
“There are two pandemics, one is the previous COVID virus which is really being well controlled by the public health measures in place, the other is variants of concern, those are a very small part the pandemic, but they are growing even despite lockdown.”
On Wednesday the health unit also announced the location of the third and fourth vaccine clinics in the region.
The health unit says work is already underway to convert into clinics the North London Optimist Community Centre on Cheapside Street near Highbury Avenue North and Ice Pad A at the Earl Nichols Recreation Centre near Southdale Road East and Wharncliffe Road South.
Both the community centre and the ice pad are closed as preparations are made. The health unit says the clinics are not expected to be open to the public for “several weeks” but it’s believed that they will be used to support the rollout of Phase 2 of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.
–With files from Jacquelyn LeBel
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