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East Toronto Health Partners announces strategy for delivering COVID-19 vaccines to local children aged 5 to 11 to help ensure safe, family-friendly and low-barrier access to vaccines
The equity-driven plan includes a dedicated COVID-19 vaccine clinic for children, mobile school clinics in priority neighbourhoods and tactics for building vaccine confidence among local families
(November 23, 2021) Toronto, ON – East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto, has developed a strategy for delivering COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 5 to 11 in East Toronto to help ensure safe, family-friendly and low-barrier access to vaccines.
The equity-driven strategy is being launched in response to Health Canada’s approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 and the Ontario government’s announcement that children in this age group are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The strategy includes the following elements:
- Dedicated COVID-19 vaccine clinic for children
- Mobile school clinics in priority neighbourhoods
- Tactics for building vaccine confidence among local families
The strategy builds on ETHP’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan for East Toronto, which, since December 2020, has delivered more than 400,000 doses to local residents through immunization clinics and mobile efforts using an equity- and data-driven approach.
It is also part of the City of Toronto’s plans to offer vaccines to children aged 5 to 11 at mass immunization clinics, community centres, schools, hospitals, pharmacies and select family doctor and paediatrician offices.
Dedicated COVID-19 vaccine clinic for children
ETHP is transitioning its COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Thorncliffe Park Community Hub (45 Overlea Blvd.) into a dedicated clinic for children aged 5 to 11. Starting November 25, children aged 5 to 11 can receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at this clinic by appointment.
Parents, guardians and caregivers can book their child an appointment in advance online. Walk-ins are not available. Appointments can be made from Monday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The clinic features a family-friendly design, including separate vaccination pods for improved privacy; wide aisles to accommodate strollers; positive distractions, such as puppets, iPads and other activities; and Child Life Specialists who work with children and families to help make the vaccination experience as comfortable as possible.
In an effort to ensure an environment that is as safe as possible for children and families, the clinic administers first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 only. Individuals aged 12 and up who need their first dose, second dose or booster dose can make an appointment at or walk in to one of ETHP’s other vaccine clinics in East Toronto. Appointments at other clinics in the city can also be made using the provincial booking system online or by calling 1-833-943-3900.
Mobile school clinics in priority neighbourhoods
Starting November 26, ETHP will operate multiple mobile or “pop-up” vaccine clinics per day at schools in priority neighbourhoods in East Toronto. These clinics will offer first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by walk-in to children aged 5 to 11 who attend the host school or who live or go to school in the surrounding community.
The mobile clinics will take place at each host school over consecutive days to give local children multiple opportunities to get vaccinated. ETHP will also return to schools multiple times over the next few months and for second doses. By operating mobile clinics at schools that local families live close to and are familiar with, ETHP aims to remove barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine related to a lack of time, access to transportation and other challenges.
The clinics build on Michael Garron Hospital’s (MGH) existing relationships with schools in East Toronto. Since May, the hospital has worked with ETHP to operate more than 145 mobile clinics at more than 50 local schools.
In an effort to ensure an environment that is as safe as possible for children and families, the mobile clinics administer first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 only. Individuals aged 12 and up who need their first dose, second dose or booster dose can make an appointment at or walk in to one of ETHP’s other vaccine clinics in East Toronto. Appointments at other clinics in the city can also be made using the provincial booking system online or by calling 1-833-943-3900.
Tactics for building vaccine confidence among local families
ETHP is working closely with the community to help build vaccine confidence among local families.
This includes developing and disseminating multilingual materials that share reliable, evidence-based information about the vaccine and local vaccine clinics; mobilizing community ambassadors to conduct vaccine outreach and engagement; and conducting regular meetings among partners to identify and address barriers to vaccination.
Since November 1, ETHP has also conducted a number of virtual town halls with its partners that serve priority neighbourhoods in East Toronto. During these events, local residents are able to ask medical experts questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and its safety and efficacy for children aged 5 to 11.
Throughout the vaccine rollout for children aged 5 to 11, ETHP will continue to work with its partners to ensure local families have the information they need to make confident, educated decisions about vaccination.
“Research and real-world data shows that children aged 5 to 11 are just as likely as adults to be infected with COVID-19. Although most children have mild symptoms, they are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and long-term effects. Vaccinating children helps protect them from the virus; increases protection in their family and the whole community; and helps children safely get back to the things they love, which is vital for their health, happiness and development. We look forward to working with our partners to help vaccinate children in our community using an approach that prioritizes families who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 so, together, we can move one step closer to ending the pandemic,” says Dr. Janine McCready, Infectious Diseases Physician at Michael Garron Hospital.
“Throughout the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, we have seen how crucial it is to ensure vaccines are as easy and convenient to access as possible. This means bringing vaccines to places that are easy for local residents to get to and that people are familiar with, including schools. We’re thrilled to continue our work with our ETHP partners to help build vaccine confidence and get vaccines into the arms of children at family-friendly clinics that are close to home,” says Nadjib Alamyar, Manager, Newcomer Wellness at WoodGreen Community Services.
“Family physicians have played a key role in sharing reliable COVID-19 information with our communities and administering first, second and booster doses of the vaccine. We look forward to continuing our support of ETHP’s vaccine rollout in East Toronto by ensuring our community physicians are equipped to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to children at dedicated and mobile clinics, as well as in select primary care offices. In addition, we continue to support ETHP’s COVID-19 Outreach Centres, where people aged 12 and up can get their first, second or booster dose of the vaccine if they are eligible,” says Dr. Rahima Alani, Physician Lead for COVID-19 Outreach Centres in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park and a member of East Toronto Family Practice Network.
About East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP)
East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto, is a group of more than 50 community, primary care, home care, hospital and social services organizations in East Toronto working together to create an integrated system of care across our communities. Collectively, ETHP is responsible for providing care and support to the 300,000 individuals who live in East Toronto communities, as well as an additional 75,000 clients who choose to receive health care in the local area. Clients, family members and caregivers are partners in every aspect of the development of ETHP, working together to improve the way East Toronto residents access and receive care. Visit ethp.ca to learn more.