An outpost of MedImmune, a US biotech company whose work includes vaccines for preventing malaria and other illnesses, opens at one of the city’s busiest intersections
Toronto launches ‘micro-clinic’ vaccine push aimed at getting hesitant residents off the fence
Toronto has announced plans to establish its first free “micro-clinic” with a majority of its time set aside for delivering free vaccinations in its most populous neighbourhoods.
The immunization push is the latest response to a report by the city’s health authority, which found that nearly all children in the city have their shots but a majority of adults do not.
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While some jurisdictions require vaccines for kindergarteners, Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, said the city has no such requirement, and no need. He said the city has been working with local health centres, parents and community groups on programs to encourage people to get vaccinated.
A spike in vaccine hesitancy among parents with only young children, who had been the strongest drivers of the rise in unvaccinated residents, has abated slightly but the remaining residents will be required to be vaccinated by one or both of the MMR or hepatitis A vaccines if they choose not to, he said.
The proposed clinics will be the third phase of vaccinations administered by MedImmune, a United States biotech company whose work includes vaccines for preventing malaria and other illnesses. A MedImmune outpost was opened last year at one of the city’s busiest intersections to offer one vaccine to each road-based commuter, saving them the full $19 cost of that vaccine. It is expected to open again on Monday.
Its efforts have brought health officials commendation, said Dr Chris Madej, the medical director of the Toronto medical officer of health.
“We have to appreciate that all those people who have to go to work with a car have to figure out and attend to what comes in the rear-view mirror when they are driving. They’re not going to buy a taxi. So some of the strategies that are available for us to deliver vaccines at a very affordable cost for them can be done in our neighbourhood clinics,” he said.
Madej said the free clinic would work similarly. Students from local colleges and schools will contribute to the staff of the clinic to vaccinate the public, and no appointment is necessary, a MedImmune spokesperson said. Vaccinations for human papillomavirus will not be offered.
Along with the work of MedImmune, the city is also holding weekly clinics at its headquarters and organizing a “soft” campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated. For instance, guests at the mayor’s annual Halloween party, held last month, were asked to “Get vaccinated before trick-or-treating on October 31st” in a poster.
Madej said the city, in partnership with corporate partners, is also looking into using Snapchat and other social media to spread information.
Toronto’s medical officer of health said the city had not issued a new vaccine requirement for people living in the city, nor had they established a new threshold for vaccinating. In the Toronto district, according to the latest figures released in August, more than half of people are eligible for the MMR vaccine.
In New York City, the mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a similar plan earlier this year. He has since said a rate of 10% was the maximum he wanted vaccinated, and that the city would not institute that requirement.
Tory said people’s choices would not change the decision made by parents and caregivers.
“There will be more of them,” he said of MedImmune’s clinic. “In fact, I suspect they will choose that because it’s convenient for them to get there and they can get back to their child.”