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What’s a better present than Christmas Day booster shots? We talk to people getting holiday jabs in Toronto


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What’s a better present than Christmas Day booster shots? We talk to people getting holiday jabs in Toronto

Before receiving her COVID-19 booster shot Christmas Day, Keyvan Csullog handed out Tim Horton’s giftcards to staff who volunteered to work the holiday at a city-run North York vaccination clinic.

“It’s the least I can do for them giving up their personal time to help us,” Csullog said Saturday after rolling up the sleeve of her red-and-white Christmas sweater to receive her third dose at the Mitchell Field Community Centre.

She brushed off the inconvenience of getting jabbed on a holiday. “This is one of those things, give up that time on the couch or your pyjamas to do something important for yourself and others.” It’s “a little blip at lunchtime then you go back home and spend it with family.”

Located at 89 Church Ave., east of Yonge Street and about halfway between Sheppard and Finch Avenues, the centre was one of two Team Toronto COVID-19 vaccination clinics operating Christmas Day as the highly contagious Omicron variant continues to circulate and the COVID-19 case count climbs in Ontario. The other vaccination clinic open on Christmas was at the Thorncliffe Park Community hub.

Both will be running again Boxing Day.

On Saturday, a steady lineup of people waited outside Mitchell Field for their previously booked time slot in the makeshift clinic, where Christmas music played and staff and vaccinators in festive outfits kept things running smoothly and efficiently.

“My Christmas present from my husband,” laughed Carroll Sondermeyer. On Christmas morning, after opening presents with their four children, the couple headed to Mitchell Field for their shots.

While Sondermeyer hopes getting a needle on Christmas doesn’t become part of the family’s holiday traditions, it’s given them “lots to talk about. It’s kind of monumental that we’re getting it on Christmas Day.”

Another visitor to Mitchell Field on Saturday was Ben Fox. He booked his booster appointment three days ago. He’s confident the jab is necessary and the right thing to do.

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“My understanding is we won’t get as sick if we get COVID. I have two kids, so I’m making sure I’m able to take care of them, reduce the spread,” and at the same time feel “like you’re doing your part, like a good Torontonian,” he said.

Mayor John Tory and Coun. Joe Cressy (Spadina—Fort York) dropped into Mitchell Field on Saturday afternoon to thank the approximately 30 staff members for volunteering to work over the holidays.

Tory called it “heartwarming” that after the city and Toronto Public Health increased capacity at the clinic over the holiday, Toronto residents gobbled up all the additional 1,800 appointments this weekend.

He credited the “team spirit,” shared by people “who believe in the public service that they’re doing.”

Cressy, who is chair of the city’s board of health, said great progress is being made to get Torontonians vaccinated thanks to “everybody from front-line workers working on Christmas Day, to residents rolling up their sleeves, to our civil service who stepped to volunteer to work.”

Everybody in this city rallied together and that is why we’re in a position to confront this next wave.”

According to statistics released by the city Saturday, approximately 89 per cent of Toronto residents 12 and older have now received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and almost 87 per cent have two doses.

Approximately 30 per cent of eligible residents have had their third dose. And as of Dec. 24, more than 41 per cent of kids have had their first dose.

Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy

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