Hamilton's first mass vaccination site opens Monday

While daily capacity will depend on vaccine supply allotted to Hamilton by the province, city officials say the clinic is a major step toward getting local residents vaccinated on an efficient timeline.

At full capacity, the FirstOntario Centre site can give 3,000 vaccine doses per day

Members of the public will access Hamilton's mass vaccination clinic at FirstOntario Centre through the building's main entrance, seen here on Friday, March 19, 2021. (Saira Peesker/CBC)

The city's first mass vaccination site opens Monday at FirstOntario Centre, allowing the city to give up to 3,000 vaccinations per day when operating at full capacity. While daily capacity will depend on vaccine supply allotted to Hamilton by the province, city officials say the clinic is a major step toward getting local residents vaccinated on an efficient timeline.

"We know Hamiltonians are eager to get vaccinated and we are ready," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger on Friday in a release. "Within the constraints of vaccine supply, our teams continue to make great progress in vaccinating residents per the provincial rollout plan. Our commitment to getting the vaccine into the arms of as many Hamiltonians as possible is strong and we look forward to receiving additional supply as soon as possible." 

The site is located in the north basement of the FirstOntario Centre, a concert venue and home of the Ontario Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs. As the rink staff got the ice ready for Bulldogs practice on Friday, a group of socially-distanced, masked clinic workers watched training videos on a large screen hanging from the ceiling of the cavernous space being used for the clinic. 

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger surveys the ready-to-go mass vaccination site at FirstOntario Centre on Friday, March 19, 2021. (Saira Peesker/CBC)

The Bulldogs' use of the arena will continue once the site launches, but temporary walls are going up to keep team staff completely separate from those being vaccinated, said city spokesperson Jacqueline Durlov on Friday.

The site takes up 60,000 square feet at the facility and will be staffed by 100 people when operating at its full capacity. Its clinic staff will be a mix of Hamilton Public Health Services employees, Hamilton Paramedic Services employees and community physicians, while city staff — including many new hires — will fill non-clinical roles. 

The site contains 28 vaccination stations, as well as designated areas for people to register and recover after getting the shot.

Tables are lined up to greet members of the public at Hamilton's mass vaccination site at First Ontario Centre on Friday, March 19, 2021. (Saira Peesker/CBC)

Currently, people 80 years old and above are eligible to receive the vaccine, as well as some health care workers; shelter populations; Indigenous adults; adult recipients of chronic home care; and staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes. Visit hamilton.ca/VaccineBooking for details on how to get an appointment.

The City says the FirstOntario site has 700 appointment spots per day for the coming week. It will operate seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For free parking while being vaccinated, park in the York Boulevard Parkade and bring the ticket to the clinic for validation.

"We are excited to be adding to our capacity to provide vaccinations to our community," said Hamilton medical officer of health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson in the release. "With the province expecting additional supply as we move through spring and summer, and as eligible populations are also expanded in Phase Two of the Provincial Prioritization Framework, we and our healthcare partners will continue to open up new clinics and modalities for delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to members of our community and stop the spread of COVID-19."


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