“Reaching the bottom 20% is a challenge. Why a mobile health team is bringing COVID-19 vaccines to the hidden unvaccinated – .

“Reaching the bottom 20% is a challenge. Why a mobile health team is bringing COVID-19 vaccines to the hidden unvaccinated – .

Evelyn Tang received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in May and was due to receive the second in September.

Although appointments have since increased for all age groups with an abundant supply of vaccines in the province, the young Torontonian just couldn’t find the time for it.

First, the new York University graduate started an accounting job, then moved to a new home in July when the third wave of COVID-19 appeared to have subsided.

However, as the daily number of new cases resumed an upward trajectory last week – surpassing the 500 mark in the past two days – Tang felt the urgency to get the full vaccine and searched online for the clinic. closer.

On Saturday, with a lovely summer breeze on a blue sky day, the 22-year-old strolled through a local parkette nestled in a concrete jungle of high-rise condos near her home in the Sheppard neighborhood. Ave. and Yonge St ..

With her mask on, Tang sat down in a folding chair in the front row of the lawn. She wasn’t in Willowdale Park for an outdoor concert, but rather for a mobile clinic, aptly dubbed the Vaccinator, hosted by North York General Hospital.

“When they started changing reservations for the second shot, I couldn’t get a seat. Then I got really busy, ”Tang said as he rolled up his sleeve for the jab. “It’s great that they have a walk-in clinic in the community. It is so convenient.

And making immunization accessible is exactly what these mobile clinics are trying to achieve during this critical time to boost immunization rates as Canada – and Ontario – heads into the fourth wave of COVID-19.

“For different reasons, people don’t get vaccinated. We want to reduce those barriers, ”said Dr. Rebecca Stoller, family physician for the North York Family Health Team, who oversaw Saturday’s immunization clinic.

“Reaching the bottom 20% is a challenge. “

Ontario reported 578 new cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths on Saturday. Of the new cases, 153 new cases were in Toronto, 67 in Peel, 64 in York, 21 in Halton and 20 in Durham.

Although more than 80 percent of the eligible population in Ontario has received at least one injection, the latest data showed that only 74.5 percent of people over 18 were fully immunized and 73.1 percent all eligible people (12 and over) had had both strokes.

The community of Willowdale East, a young, high-density neighborhood, has fallen behind on fully immunized fronts, at 63.6% for all adults and 57.6% for those 12 and over. (The population here with at least one hit was less than 70 percent.)

Over the past week, health officials have scoured areas, posted flyers, knocked on doors at local businesses, and visited residences to promote the clinic, which operated from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., including two other stops in the neighboring Toronto district. Headquarters of the Catholic School Board and Avondale Park.

On Saturday, Dr Naomi Driman took another push by taking walks in Willowdale Park, chatting with young parents, dog walkers and picnickers to encourage all unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.

“Have you had your COVID vaccines? Do you know anyone who has not been vaccinated? she screamed.

“I had two. Can I have a booster injection? Asked a young father, with his daughter in the tollgate.

“We love what you do,” sounded another passerby.

Driman apologized that a third hit hadn’t been cleared yet, but was glad that everyone she had approached except two had their hits.

Stoller said it is difficult to reach the unvaccinated at this point because it is an increasingly small pool and they are more difficult to locate and reach. People may not have time to browse online to make a reservation and attend a date while struggling between family and work, she explained.

“It’s a natural place for people to come together and we can have a conversation if they have questions and hesitations,” she said, adding that some are reluctant to get the vaccine because they are. concerned about side effects and have no one to answer their questions. .

To break down the barrier for vaccine buyers, who insist on having the same vaccine for the first and second vaccines, the clinic made Pfizer and Moderna available.

Peter Cheng was among the skeptics, and he didn’t get his first injection until July, months after his wife and son had theirs.

“There were all these stories on social media about the side effects of COVID vaccinations,” said Cheng, who was dropped off by his son from his home on Don Mills-Sheppard Rd. Surface.

“I was scared and wanted to wait and see. My wife and son were both feeling great so I went to take my first photo. I wanted to have my second shot earlier but had to work during the week.

The North York General Health Team – and the Vaccinator bus provided by CareFirst Seniors & Community Services Association – will be at the Bathurst-Wilson Parkette at 3749 Bathurst St. from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Details can be found at: https://www.nygh.on.ca/covid19vaccination.

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter who covers immigration for The Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

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