Toronto is set to reach a milestone in its battle against COVID-19 this weekend with 50 per cent of adult residents having had their first vaccination.
The city announced on Saturday that half of eligible Torontonians 18 years or older will have received at least their first dose.
“First-dose vaccine coverage rates have tripled in our hardest-hit neighbourhoods,” said Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health.
“Until every resident, in every corner of our city, has access to the vaccine, we’ll continue to scale up our Team Toronto efforts,” he added.
Team Toronto refers to the city’s vaccination network, including Toronto Public Health, hospitals, Ontario Health teams, pharmacies and community groups, among others.
Due to their efforts, 1,379,532 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto as of Saturday.
Mayor John Tory thanked residents for stepping forward to get vaccinated.
“This is a non-stop effort. It’s about saving lives and getting life back to normal,” he said. “It’s about hope, summer, jobs, family and good health … on our way back to the lives we know and love,” Tory added.
The Team Toronto effort aims to get as many residents vaccinated as quickly as possible by expanding mobile vaccination across the city, to bring shots to the areas most in need, the city said in a news release Saturday.
With enough vaccine supply, the city added more than 17,000 new appointments across five city-operated clinics for the week of May 10.
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On Friday, the province announced 78 pharmacies in Toronto and Peel would now offer the Pfizer vaccine to people aged 18 and older. In addition, 58 pharmacies in Durham, York Region, Hamilton, Ottawa and Windsor are offering the Moderna shot to anyone in that age group.
People are advised to book online or to contact pharmacy sites directly about availability.
Community-based organizations in the city are also working to spread awareness about the effectiveness of getting a shot.
A vaccine pop-up clinic and information session is being held this weekend at the Jamaican Canadian Centre for African and Caribbean communities.
Hours before the event started, hundreds of people started lining up to get jabbed, said Floydeen Charles-Fridal, the executive director of the Caribbean African Canadian Social Services (CAFCAN).
CAFCAN and the Jamaican Canadian Association hosted the event which helped to get over 300 people vaccinated by Saturday afternoon.
“There’s a lot of mistrust between the Black community and the health-care system,” Charles-Fridal said.
“It’s really important for us to be able to educate and inform people through a lens which they can relate, so they can feel more comfortable when getting the vaccine,” she added.
The city says the next vaccination milestone is getting up to 65 per cent of the city’s population jabbed.
“Reaching a milestone reminds us that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr. Eileen De Villa, the city’s top doctor. “This is a long tunnel though, and we have work to do before we see the end.”
Breanna Xavier-Carter is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Reach her via email: [email protected]
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