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Toronto’s pivots vaccination effort to target communities with low rates

Click to play video: 'Toronto to close several mass vaccination clinics, redeploy staff to target neighbourhoods'
Toronto to close several mass vaccination clinics, redeploy staff to target neighbourhoods
WATCH: Toronto to close several mass vaccination clinics, redeploy staff to target neighbourhoods – Aug 22, 2021

As vaccinations dramatically slow down city-wide, Toronto has opted to hone in on communities with the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates.

As of Monday, five city-run mass vaccination clinics will halt operations. More than 300 staff from those facilities will be redeployed to go door-to-door to neighbourhoods where uptake continues to be low.

Read more: Toronto Public Health recommends employers require proof of COVID vaccination

“Those who are not yet vaccinated are the ones that have some hesitation,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“But if we go to their doors, knock on their doors, say you just have to come downstairs to the bottom of the building to get vaccinated, we find that we have a higher level of success.”

Clinics that will be closing include Carmine Stefano Community Centre, Malvern Community Recreation Centre, North Toronto Memorial Community Centre and Toronto Congress Centre.

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Read more: COVID-19: Toronto hospital network plans to fire employees who aren’t vaccinated

Tory says staff will be going directly to workplaces, religious groups and other organizations to speak with those that are unvaccinated.

Infectious diseases physician Dr. Isaac Bogoch says while there is a subset of the unvaccinated population that will not get immunized, others are facing barriers to getting their shots.

“There might be language barriers, there might be mobility barriers, there might be technology barriers, there might be financial barriers but something is getting in the way,” said Bogoch.

“That’s why programs like (Toronto’s) are so important.”

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According to data from the city’s website, communities currently facing the lowest vaccination rates include Taylor-Massey, Kingsview Village- The Westway and Elms-Old Rexdale. All three neighourhoods have less than 57 per cent of residents fully vaccinated.

City officials say five immunization clinics will remain open on a modified schedule with the capacity to vaccinate 12,800 people per week.

Since May 1, roughly 99 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Toronto have been partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, Tory said Saturday.

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The mayor adds there are hundreds of thousands of eligible residents in the city who have yet to be immunized.

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