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‘Things are really going to change’: 3rd COVID-19 vaccine clinic opens in Middlesex-London

Shirley Banks, 88, receives the first dose during the opening of the North London Optimist Community Centre COVID-19 vaccine clinic on March 17, 2021. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

With the prick of a needle, 88-year-old Shirley Banks became the first person vaccinated at the North London Optimist Community Centre (NLOCC) COVID-19 vaccination clinic Wednesday.

Speaking to reports after the jab, Banks was overjoyed to finally get the vaccine, exclaiming, “Wow, I got my shot,” to applause.

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“My kids really wanted me to have it,” she said.

Banks, who says she is not a big fan of needles, say she “barely felt it.”

The mother of five said she is excited to see all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren again, remarking the last time they were all together was her 87th birthday on March 1, 2020.

Banks received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine but starting Thursday when the clinic officially opens, it will be the first clinic in the region administering the Moderna vaccine.

Read more: Mild, temporary vaccine side effects? That’s a sign they’re working, experts say

The opening of the region’s third clinic is a big step forward in the fight against COVID-19.

The new clinic increases the capacity for local health-care workers to vaccinate up to 4,500 people per day against the virus as more vaccine supply becomes available.

“It means we are ready for big doses to come in April and we hope to hit that target by end of June having first vaccines into everyone’s arms,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, London medical officer of health.

“This is the time when things are really going to change. We will be having much more vaccine coming unto our community.

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“The clinics are ready to go. We will be breaking the back of this pandemic over the next few months.”

Read more: Coronavirus — 19 new COVID-19 cases in London-Middlesex, 20 in Sarnia-Lambton

The North London vaccine clinic will have the capacity to see up to 2,000 people per day at full capacity. Starting off, Mackie said it will vaccinate around 400 people per day, which will increase as more supply becomes available.

The vaccine clinic at the Western Fair Agriplex has a similar capacity capability, with the staff and space to vaccinate up to 2,000 people per day and the clinic at the Caradoc Community Centre able to administer up to 550 vaccines per day.

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Due to limited parking space at the North London clinic, a shuttle bus will be set up to and from the Stronach Arena & Community Centre 1.2 kilometres away, said Joe Belancic of MLHU procurement operations.

Read more: COVAX donates first AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to Nicaragua

Belancic said the shuttle will run every 15 minutes and has the capacity to take up to 18 people at a time.

He said they will also start a patient intake for those who are at Stronach Arena while they wait for the shuttle.

Belancic said the health unit wants to remind people to not come in too early for their apportionment to avoid lineups.

Those looking to find out if they are eligible for a vaccine or to book an appointment can find more information on the MLHU’s website.

The latest report from the MLHU shows that as of Sunday, 54,508 does of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the region.

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