Several Ontario mass vaccination clinics wind down as focus shifts to smaller sites


Several mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics across Ontario are winding down as first-dose registrations wane and communities shift to smaller venues.

The Northwestern Health Unit, which covers the city of Kenora, Ont., and surrounding communities has been running its last mass clinics this week.

The health unit says the large clinics were no longer filling up but shots will still be offered at smaller sites.

Grey Bruce, a current hot spot for the Delta COVID-19 variant, is also shutting down its mass clinics at the end of the month to return the large sites for community use.

The health unit is advising people with shots booked for August and beyond to rebook.

Larger cities are also following the trend, with Mississauga, Ont., aiming to close a convention centre used as a vaccination site on Monday, with another hospital clinic closing the next day.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie said the transition away from mass clinics is part of the city’s focus on bringing vaccines to the least-immunized communities, with more emphasis planned on pop-ups, drive-thru clinics and primary care sites.

“This is a good news story and it shows that our mass vaccination clinics have done their job getting the majority of our people vaccinated,” Crombie said at a Thursday news conference.

“We can now look at this period as the home stretch of our initial vaccine rollout to get to that final 10 to 20 per cent of our population and ensure that they, too, are vaccinated.”

​Kingston, Ont.’s health unit announced it would enter a “new phase” of its vaccination plan last week, with plans to shut down mass clinics beginning in August and shift to pharmacy, mobile and primary care sites.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said earlier this month that primary care sites would become more essential to the province’s vaccination plan as mass clinics at hospitals, stadiums and other large venues wind down and resume their old uses.

Eighty per cent of adults in Ontario have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 66 per cent are fully vaccinated. The first-dose figure has hovered at nearly 80 per cent for several weeks.

The Grey Bruce health unit noted this week that its local COVID-19 situation is now a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” a trend noted around the world.

The health unit says 95 per cent of cases reported in the first two weeks of July were among people not fully vaccinated, and encouraged people to get their shots, noting that it’s likely that vaccinated people may be subject to fewer restrictions such as isolation rules in the event of future outbreaks.

“Vaccinating the majority of people sets us on the road to return to normal,” it said in a news release.

Ontario reported 192 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and one death from the virus.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press