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Community vaccine strategy presented to Hamilton’s board of health

Hamilton Pulbic health hopes all residents wanting to be vaccinated against COVID-19, will have that option by the end of 2021. Andrew Vaughan-Pool.The Canadian Press file

Hamilton Public Health has laid out a high-level strategy for vaccinating more than 10,000 residents per day against COVID-19, once vaccine supplies become available later this year.

As presented to the city’s board of health on Friday afternoon, the strategy will include large-scale clinics in high population areas, such as one that starts operation March 1 at St. Joseph’s Healthcare’s West 5th campus.

Read more: Coronavirus: Hamilton sees 46 new COVID-19 cases, set to open new vaccination clinic at St. Joe’s

Director of epidemiology, Michelle Baird, says the large-scale clinics will be “centrally located, as you can imagine, on a bus route, in different geographical spaces within the city.”

Baird adds mobile, popup, rolling and drive-thru clinics will be used to reach targeted locations, perhaps where people are “less mobile,” as well as by using recreation centres and other central locations within suburban and rural areas.

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Once a suitable vaccine is approved for distribution, there are also plans to administer 1,000 doses each day through pharmacies across the city.

Right now, Baird notes that isn’t realistic since “the two products that are available come with significant storage challenges.”

Read more: With lingering questions and delays surrounding COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario, here’s where things stand

To date, the city and its health-care partners have administered just over 26,000 vaccines to members of the community who fall into Phase 1 of the province’s COVID-19 vaccination framework.

That includes residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes.

Within the next few weeks, the focus will shift to other retirement homes and congregate care settings for seniors, and all seniors 80 and over in the community.

The city expects that all residents wanting a vaccine will be able to receive it by the end of 2021, although Baird stresses there is not currently a pediatric vaccine available.

“The vaccines that are available, right now, are not for use for those under the age of 16,” she said.

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