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Region launches vaccine pilot project in Elmira as province tries to expand availability

Regional councillors visit Public Health’s largest vaccine clinic, which opened last week at 66 Pinebush Rd. in Cambridge. [Submitted]

A pilot project for vaccination sites in the region saw a clinic open in Elmira last weekend, courtesy of the Elmira Family Health Organization.

“This clinic will be contacting their own patients who fit the current eligibility for vaccine. It will be a very small clinic by appointment only. There is no pre-registration as this is led by the primary care team in Elmira, who will facilitate the appointment,” said Shirley Hilton, who leads the region’s vaccine distribution task force.

She stressed that the public should not try to contact the clinic for an appointment, noting there is an “extremely limited supply” of vaccine at the location.

“This particular one is a small clinic… they’ll get a very small amount of vaccine just for their pilot, and they’re calling their own patients to come in for the vaccines, those that are eligible,” said Hilton.

“It’s a very small amount right now to see how this works, and then how we can learn from this particular pilot for other family health organizations and primary care teams to have similar clinics. So, if you remember, we’re hoping when we get into a steady state, that the vaccine will be administered in family or in primary care clinics and through pharmacies as well.

“Please don’t look for Elmira on the pre-registration form at all. Don’t try to call the call centre to figure out how to book an appointment – the primary care team will call directly the patients that they’ve identified in the eligibility group.”

The Elmira project follows the establishment last month of a clinic in Wellesley to serve the rural and Mennonite communities.

“There are some communities up in up in the northern part of Wellesley Township, and  we want to try to make this more accessible for the Mennonite community,” said Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris. “It’s obviously very hard for our Mennonites to get into the cities with their modes of transportation, as they’re mostly horse and buggy. So, as you can imagine, that starts to create a little bit of an issue for them.”

The new pilot projects join plans to expand more vaccination centres throughout the province at local pharmacies, including locations in Waterloo Region.

“We’re going to be expanding over the next few weeks, the amount of pharmacies there that will be online, doing the AstraZeneca vaccinations for those 60 and over. Right now, there’s about 350 pharmacies; we’re going to be doubling that for a total of 700 locations across the province within the next few weeks. And then as we start to move forward, we’re going to look to double that, again, up to about 1,500 across the province over the next few months. It’s really great news coming out today ahead of schedule and going to be able to get more people vaccinated, obviously at a quicker pace,” said Harris.

By midweek, the region had administered 78,258 doses of vaccine, with 14,890 people fully vaccinated. Some 11 per cent of the population has received at least one dose, with 2.5 per cent having received two.

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