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East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), Mid-West Toronto OHT and North York Toronto Health Partners (NYTHP) are undertaking a mobile vaccination pilot that will see the three Ontario Health Teams (OHT) administering COVID-19 vaccines to approximately 500 seniors and healthcare workers in buildings that contain high-risk congregate seniors settings over three days.
Launching Tuesday, Feb. 23, the pilot involves deploying teams of healthcare workers from the OHTs to three high-risk congregate seniors' buildings in Toronto. They will go door to door within the buildings to administer first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents and staff who have pre-registered and granted consent.
The three buildings in Toronto were selected based on the congregate care settings present in the buildings, the amount of healthcare services delivered in the residences and the large proportion of seniors over the age of 80 years:
This approach will test out a model of low-barrier access to the COVID-19 vaccine for populations that have been identified as priority groups for first-dose vaccination as part of Phase One of the Ontario government's vaccine implementation plan. These include staff, residents and caregivers in congregate care settings for seniors.
Following the pilot this week, the three OHTs will share lessons learned on how best to efficiently deliver vaccines using mobile teams in similar settings in a manner that maximizes vaccine uptake.
"We understand there is strength in numbers when it comes to ensuring as many of our priority populations receive the COVID-19 vaccine as safely, easily and quickly as possible," says Sarah Downey, President and CEO at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and a member of ETHP. "That's why we're working in collaboration with our partners in East Toronto, other OHTs in the region and Toronto Public Health as part of a mass vaccination effort in alignment with provincial direction as vaccine supply increases across Ontario."
Building selected have experienced significant challenges during COVID-19
"The partners of the Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team are tremendously excited to support this important COVID-19 vaccination effort," says Justine Humphries, Senior Director, Partnerships and Strategy at Kensington Health and the Mid-West Toronto Ontario Health Team Secretariat Lead. "This project is in line with our OHT's mantra that is centred on the belief that if we design a system that works for the most vulnerable in our community, we are creating a system that works for everyone."
"This pilot will bring the COVID vaccine to seniors at high risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill from COVID-19," says Dr. Rebecca Stoller, Family Physician with NYTHP and a team lead for Mobile Vaccine Team. "This experience will help us design the most effective approaches to vaccinating as many seniors as possible in North York and across Toronto as vaccination ramps up in the coming weeks."
The high-risk congregate seniors' buildings that are part of the mobile vaccination pilot are located within the three OHTs' catchment areas. The buildings selected also experienced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including outbreaks, and have been identified by the provincial vaccination plan as high priority for vaccination.
One of these buildings is operated by WoodGreen Community Services.
"Vaccinating our seniors is a very important step to keep our community safe from COVID-19," says Anne Babcock, President and CEO of WoodGreen Community Services and a member of ETHP. "We are thrilled to be providing the vaccine to our clients in the comfort of their own home and are proud to join our partners from the East Toronto Health Partners network to support the Ontario government's vaccine strategy."
"We know that working to support community readiness and capacity – learning from testing and vaccination efforts, combined with on-the-ground trust and relationships will be a powerful combination as we move forward together," saysShiran Isaacksz, Vice President, UHN.
"Through the mobile vaccination teams, #TeamVaccine, we will have the opportunity to bring vaccine to high priority populations and support equitable and accessible vaccine."