Pilot project aims to help residents who may face barriers to getting to a mass vaccination clinic in South Georgian Bay
Who is here?
It could be public health.
The South Georgian Bay Community Health Center, in conjunction with the Wasaga Beach Fire Department, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and the Town of Wasaga Beach, collaborated on a pilot project that helped get vaccinated residents who might have encountered obstacles when trying to get to a mass vaccination clinic.
The door-to-door pilot project targets vaccines in low-income areas of Southern Georgian Bay.
“Every community has a mass vaccination clinic, but now that we are crossing them we need a more specialized and targeted approach to reach the vulnerable people who are a little harder to reach,” said Heather Klein Gebbinck, Executive Director of the South Georgian Bay Community Health Center.
The pilot project took place for the first time on July 7, then on July 13. On July 7, 147 doses were administered at five locations in Wasaga Beach, including affordable housing at The Dychonia, Seventh Lane and Zoo Park Road. Special clinics are not advertised to avoid walk-in visits, so specific amounts of vaccine can be prepared so that vaccine is not wasted.
“We had no idea how many people would show up. We ordered 180 vaccines because we just had to pick a number and go. We know how many doors there are, but we don’t know how many will open for us, ”she said.
Gebbinck said Wasaga Beach firefighters are knocking on community doors and urging residents to go to clinics set up in the parking lots of each building. For people with severe mobility issues, some health care workers as well as Wasaga Beach firefighters have administered vaccines to people’s homes.
All residents who accept their offer are also signed up for a second dose appointment on August 11, when the clinic will make a second round at each location.
Gebbinck said on the first day that there were people arriving until 4 a.m. and then they were criticized by interested people.
“We still vaccinated until 10 pm. We were hungry! she said laughing. “We were so happy with the adoption. “
As of July 13, 50% of the region’s adult population (18 years and older) had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 48 percent of the region’s population aged 12 and over have been fully immunized.
About 33% of the region’s total population remains unvaccinated, which includes children under 12 who are not eligible for a vaccine at this time.
“As we seek to reduce our mass vaccination clinics, we seek to raise awareness in the community. It really helps us target people who haven’t come to our mass immunization clinics, ”said MaryAnne Holmes, Acting Vice President of Immunization Services at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “It’s really important to us as we try to achieve that 80 to 90 percent coverage rate to ensure herd immunity in our community.”
Across Simcoe-Muskoka, Holmes said the region has been divided into six zones: Muskoka, Couchiching, North Simcoe, South Simcoe, Barrie and Surroundings, and South Georgian Bay. Each of the six zones is responsible for developing an awareness strategy tailored to its residents.
Holmes said other outreach efforts in southern Georgian Bay have included reaching out to people confined to the house, who live in gathering places such as shelters and group homes for vaccinations on place, as well as the vaccination of local migrant workers.
Through the pilot project, Gebbinck says his team saw people for various reasons preventing them from going to one of the mass clinics.
“Of those we vaccinated, there were a number who had gone to mass vaccination clinics for their first dose, and we gave them their second dose,” she said. “There were quite a few who said if we hadn’t come to them, they wouldn’t have been vaccinated. It’s not that they’re anti-vax. It was more that it took a lot of effort to coordinate, find transportation, line up and do all of those things.
“Some people don’t have computers. Some people don’t know how to use the Internet. For some, it was too overwhelming a process for them, so they chose not to. The reason they have agreed to do it is convenience, ”Gebbinck said.