High but slowing COVID-19 vaccination rates in Ottawa allow city to drop to 5 community clinics

The City of Ottawa is consolidating the number of COVID-19 vaccine clinics operating in the city down to five as of Wednesday as high vaccination rates and lowering demand are warranting a shift in distribution strategy.

There are now only five clinics operating across the city:

  • Eva James Memorial Community Centre
  • Nepean Sportsplex (Halls A and B)
  • Ottawa City Hall
  • Ruddy Family YMCA-YWCA
  • Queensway Carleton Hospital

The QCH clinic is also set to wind down operations on July 30.

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“These five clinics, which are geographically located across Ottawa, have the capacity to handle the anticipated demand for appointments in community clinics,” said Anthony Di Monte, the head of Ottawa’s vaccine task force, and Dr. Brent Moloughney, associate medical officer of health, in a joint memo to council on Tuesday.

The closures of the six other clinics could result in cancelled appointments for those who had second-dose bookings automatically entered into the provincial system.

Di Monte told Global News in a statement Tuesday that there are 80,000 bookings for vaccine appointments in Ottawa between late August and November.

The city has been encouraging residents to move up those appointments in recent weeks as supply of vaccines and available appointments across the city surpassed demand.

Di Monte said the city has started reaching out directly to these residents with outstanding appointments, with 20,000 people accelerating their second-dose bookings in the past 10 days.

The city is also expanding its pop-up strategy in an attempt to continue lowering barriers to vaccination in Ottawa.

As of Wednesday, anyone aged 12 and older can walk into any pop-up clinic across the city for a first or second dose, no appointment necessary.

The city is also holding a pop-up clinic at RCGT Park on Coventry Road this coming Saturday, in conjunction with the Escapade Music Festival.

The electronic dance music festival, set for September, has announced that only fully vaccinated attendees will be allowed into the event.

The clinic will have a live DJ and giveaways for those that come ready to dance.

Setting up pop-up sites like this are part of the city’s pivot to a “more focused approach” for vaccines and away from the “mass vaccination strategy,” Di Monte told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

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As of Wednesday, 83 per cent of eligible Ottawa residents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 68 per cent of adults in the city having had both doses.

The 18-39 age group continues to see the lowest uptake in first doses, per Ottawa Public Health’s latest figures.

With initial shots “plateauing,” Di Monte said the city’s vaccine task force is going to where the youth are to encourage them to get their first dose.

“This initiative is exactly that,” he said of the Escapade pop-up clinic.

Moloughney also confirmed that OPH is in conversations with university and college partners in the city to promote vaccine uptake among post-secondary students come September.

He also said that, pending Health Canada’s vaccine approval for kids aged five to 12, the city will look to make use of the fall’s return to school to reach youth in the city currently ineligible for the shot.

“We’ve actually been in the business of vaccinating school children for decades,” Moloughney said, noting other public health campaigns to vaccinate kids in the classroom.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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