Toronto will soon begin directly contacting the nearly 50,000 residents who are overdue for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as it begins to focus in on closing the gap between those who are partially and fully immunized.
There are currently 123,000 Toronto residents who have only received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, including 48,200 people who are now considered overdue for their second shot.
As part of a new strategy, detailed by officials during a briefing on Tuesday, the city will now begin reaching out to those who are partially vaccinated through phone calls and text messages with the focus on removing barriers around vaccination.
“It's based on direct contact and having direct conversations that answer questions that address accessibility and tackle hesitancy,” Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy told reporters. “I like to think about it as like a reminder for your upcoming dentist or doctor's appointment only in this case not only are we reminding you about your second dose; we're also identifying any barriers you may have. Do you need a ride to a clinic? Do you need childcare while you go to get the shot? Do you need to have a conversation with a public health nurse to answer questions or alleviate concerns?”
Toronto Public Health has worked tirelessly to boost vaccination rates in neighbourhoods of the city where the rollout has been slow, holding hundred of pop up clinics at TTC stations, shopping plazas and grocery stores, among other high traffic locations.
Mayor John Tory said that work will continue even with an enhanced focus on “second dose conversions.”
In fact the city plans to hold another 22 pop up clinics at shopping malls and plazas this weekend as part of a Toronto-wide blitz dubbed “Shop And Vax 2.0.” It is modelled off a similar initiative last month that saw more than 1,000 doses administered at five shopping malls.
“We don't have a stove that has any back burners, they're all front burners and it just means we have to apply more resources and more determination to get this job done,” Tory insisted on Tuesday. “We shift the priorities from time to time but there are no back burners.”
More than 86 per cent of Toronto residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and more than 82 per cent are fully immunized.
The city has said that its goal is to get 90 per cent of eligible residents fully vaccinated as soon as possible.