Toronto

Ontario turns 2 GO buses into mobile clinics in new push to increase vaccine uptake

Two GO buses have been temporarily retrofitted to serve as mobile vaccine clinics as part of the province’s last mile strategy to target those who have yet to receive a first or second dose.

Buses will travel to events, community hubs to make it more convenient to receive COVID-19 vaccine

The first GO-VAXX rolled out this weekend, with its first stop at Canada's Wonderland on Saturday and Sunday, for guests with reservations to the park, as well as Canada's Wonderland staff. (Chris Mulligan/CBC)

Two GO buses have been temporarily retrofitted to serve as mobile vaccine clinics to target those who have yet to receive a first or second dose.

The Ontario government said it is partnering with Metrolinx to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to those who need it.

The first GO-VAXX rolled out this weekend, with its first stop at Canada's Wonderland on Saturday and Sunday, for guests with reservations to the park, as well as Canada's Wonderland staff.

"This innovative partnership with Metrolinx will ensure Ontarians have even easier access to a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine," Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a news release on Saturday.

"By bringing vaccines directly to the people, we are helping more residents get the protection they need for themselves, their families and their communities."

Pearce Samuels, 15, waits to enter the bus to take his second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (Jessica Ng/CBC)

The GO-VAXX buses will travel to malls, festivals, community hubs and events throughout the summer and fall across the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region, the release said.

No appointments are needed, and anyone aged 12 and over can get their first or second dose while supplies last. The mobile clinics are fully accessible and will be administering the Pfizer vaccine, according to the release.

Mike Adair, clinic lead for the mobile clinics, said each bus is equipped to administer 160 doses per day.

"Today we've had several individuals that were right from 12 right to seniors that have come for the vaccine," Adair told CBC Toronto. 

"We've seen people that are having the very first vaccine and we've also seen second dose Pfizer."

Each bus is expected to be on the road six days a week and the province will work with local public health units and municipalities to determine specific sites based on local data and needs. (Chris Mulligan/CBC)

Adair said the process is similar to what happens at a mass vaccination clinic.

"You're looking at about half an hour for the whole process, from the time that you register to the time that you get on the bus, to the time that you get your vaccine," he said.

Mobile clinics available 6 days a week

Each bus is expected to be on the road six days a week. 

The province will work with local public health units and municipalities to determine specific sites based on local data and needs.

Anyone wishing to take advantage of the GO-VAXX bus to receive their vaccine is reminded to bring their health card. Those with an expired or no health card should bring another form of government-issued photo identification such as a driver's licence, passport, status card or birth certificate.

With more than nine million Ontarians now fully vaccinated, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is seeing the benefits of the protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccines.

"The job is not over yet, and the GO-VAXX bus is another way our government is making it easier and convenient for more Ontarians to receive their vaccine," Elliott said.

Meanwhile, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said the agency is pleased with the buses.

"Our bus drivers jumped at the opportunity to be part of this incredible initiative and will be operating the GO-VAXX bus," Verster said. 

"Metrolinx has supported on site clinics for our staff and the public, and the GO-VAXX bus is another great next step to make it even more convenient for people to get protected."

According to provincial data, 80.8 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and over have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 70.8 per cent have received both doses.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Desmond Brown

Web Writer / Editor

Desmond Brown is a web writer and editor with CBC News. Drop him a line anytime at: desmond.brown@cbc.ca.

With files from Jessica Ng

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