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Region to open two new COVID-19 vaccination clinics; eligibility remains limited

Two new clinics – one each in Waterloo and Cambridge – are being added as COVID-19 vaccination sites in Waterloo Region. Any expansion into other communities will have to wait until vaccine supplies allow, however.

Regional officials announced Friday the forthcoming addition of two large public health clinics, one at the medical centre at 435 The Boardwalk, Waterloo and the other at 66 Pinebush Rd. in Cambridge.

The two new sites will be critical in helping the region reach its goal of providing 10,000 doses per day, said Shirley Hilton, who heads the vaccine distribution taskforce.

“The Boardwalk clinic will open in early March as a site initially for are adults 80 years of age and older who have been recently added as a priority population to phase one of the vaccine rollout. The Rona location in Cambridge will open after a few modifications are made so the site can operate as a clinic,” she said at a the weekly briefing.

Given limited supplies of vaccine, the region remains in the first phase of the rollout campaign, targeting frontline healthcare workers, long-term care residents and those over the age of 80. When supplies become available to widen eligibility, the goal to use small and midsize clinics, including  “primary care offices and other community locations,” Hilton explained.

This week saw the launch of pre-booking for vaccinations launch in the region ahead of the provincial government’s online portal going live on March 15.

“Residents of the community will be directed to the most appropriate and accessible clinic using a regional booking system through which they can pre-register according to the eligibility of the vaccine,” said Hilton.

“As of this morning, we have had over 10,400 people who are eligible and phase one pre-registered, with 7,000 from the over 80 years of age population; 85 per cent of those who have pre-registered did indicate that they could be available on short notice, which will assist in contingency planning should someone cancel or is unavailable for their appointment,” said Hilton of the need to fill in the gaps if scheduling issues arise.

To assist with its rollout of the additional sites, the region is looking for volunteers. Since putting out the call earlier this week, it’s received some 250 applications.

As the region attempts to get shots in people’s arms, Hilton called on residents to continue to take precautions, even if they’ve been vaccinated.

“I do want to remind those residents that have received their doses, including two doses of the vaccine, that they still need to take and continue to follow public health guidelines to protect themselves and others and to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community. These guidelines include continuing to wear a mask and practice physical distancing.”

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