Hamilton's COVID-19 vaccination plan: Mobile clinics and 10,000 doses per day

Hamilton Public Health has released early plans for how COVID-19 vaccines might be distributed across the city, including rural and suburban areas. Their goal is to eventually administer 10,000 doses a day. 

5 large-scale clinics, and 4 mobile options including pop-ups, rolling clinics considered

Details of Hamilton's vaccination roll out plan were shared in Friday's board of health meeting. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

Hamilton Public Health aims to eventually administer as many as 10,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine a day as it rolls out its distribution plan for the city, which includes large-scale clinics and plans for its rural and urban areas.

Michelle Baird, the city's director of epidemiology, wellness and communicable disease control, says the plans depend on vaccine supply, as well as the province's direction on what populations are included in vaccination phases. 

But in the next three weeks, public health will start vaccinating adults aged 80 or older, residents and caregivers in retirement homes, Indigenous adults and people who receive chronic home care. Eventually, it hopes to administer 10,000 doses per day.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he knows people are anxious, but stressed that the roll out will still take some time. 

"The public wants it now, if not sooner. And the challenge for all of us is to manage those expectations to realistic levels so that we don't lead people to believe that they're going to be able to get this immediately," he said in Friday's board of health meeting.

"If we can collectively manage those expectations, I think we're going to be very successful in terms of getting, hopefully by end of year, everybody who wants to get vaccinated, vaccinated."

Just over 9,000 people in Hamilton have been fully vaccinated, many of whom are in long-term care homes, Baird said. At the end of day on Feb. 16, there had been 25,593 doses administered. 

The province has set a target of vaccinating 75 per cent of eligible Hamiltonians. That's based on previous vaccines numbers, such as the flu and H1N1 vaccine.

700,000 doses to go after March 1

The city says that around 375,951 people in Hamilton are eligible for the vaccine. There isn't a vaccine available for the pediatric age group, meaning those under 16-years-old, Baird said.  

Heading into March 1 — the opening date for the clinic at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton's (SJHH) West 5th campus —  there will be 345,951 people who remain unvaccinated.

From that point onward, public health expects it will need to administer approximately 700,000 doses. 

Baird said they're planning to reach that number by doling out 10,000 doses a day. While Baird said the outline could change, here's how the city is currently planning to do that. 

5 large-scale clinics

Planning is underway for five large-scale clinic sites that would be centrally located and near bus routes. Baird said these sites could administer around 8,400 doses a day.

A Hamilton Health Sciences location in the north end would administer 1,200 shots a day. Baird anticipates this site will continue to be available for health-care workers in the coming weeks.

Four options are being considered to reach people who are less mobile and who live in less accessible areas, such as those not on bus routes. (Robert Atanasovski/AFP via Getty Images)

The St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton clinic on West 5th, she said, would scale up to administer 2,000 doses a day.

Public health plans to open up two clinics in March. A downtown clinic would move 3,700 doses a day, and an east end clinic, which would open later that month, would move 1,500 doses a day.

Mobile and on-site clinics

Public health is looking at four ways to distribute vaccines to people who are less mobile and in areas of Hamilton with less access. These include pop-up facility clinics, mobile bus clinics, rolling clinics, and drive-thru clinics. 

It said pop-ups could be held at facilities such as libraries or recreation centres to connect with harder to reach neighbourhoods. Among other places, the city said this option could be used to target urban Indigenous areas, retirement, nursing homes and senior centres, the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre, and rural areas.

Rolling clinics would help people who cannot leave their homes, and are living in small numbers. A bus would drop off vaccinators at a site, and circle back to pick them up. 

The third option is a mobile bus, which would drive to various areas and operate as a clinic. 

As the weather improves, a drive-thru clinic is possible. 

Coun. Jason Farr (Ward 2, downtown) brought up the idea of using the city's idled accessible vans to transport people to vaccination sites, which Baird said could also be investigated. 

1st doses at LTCH, retirement homes complete as of Sunday

Pharmacies will administer an estimated 1,000 doses a day once the city has a vaccine that's suitable for them. Primary care will continue supporting the clinics until a vaccine requiring less stringent storage restrictions is available. 

Baird said racialized neighbourhoods overlap with areas showing some of the city's highest rates of COVID-19. There's great importance, she said, in having the vaccine reach these places.

As of Sunday, Baird said, first doses will be completed at long-term care and retirement homes, and for alternate level of care patients who are preparing to enter long-term care in the city. 

The city has visited 42 homes so far, and has 20 to cover this weekend. 

"It certainly is a reason to celebrate and hopefully provide some protection to these residents as it's certainly been a tough year," she said. 

She said it's too early to tell if the vaccinations are having an impact on long-term care outbreaks. There are also lower community rates of COVID-19 affecting numbers, which she said was because of the shutdown and stay-at-home order. 

Seven days after people receive their second dose, she said, they would likely see a 94 to 95 per cent effectiveness. 

Baird said the province will provide a tool allowing people to schedule vaccinations. She also noted that there is significant staffing and IT support required to hit the goal of 10,000 doses per day. 

Here's who can get the vaccine right now in Hamilton, according to the city:

  • Residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes.
  • Alternative level of care patients in hospitals who have a confirmed admission to a long-term care home, retirement home or other congregate care home for seniors.
  • Health-care workers.

Here's who will become eligible to get their first dose of the vaccine in Hamilton within the next two to three weeks:

  • Adults aged 80 and older.
  • Staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors (e.g., assisted living).
  • Health-care workers in the high priority level, and in accordance with the Ministry of Health's guidance. 
  • All Indigenous adults.
  • Adult recipients of chronic home care.

More information on COVID-19 vaccines in Hamilton, such as registration and booking, is available on the city's website


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