On Monday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) presented ongoing vaccination rate challenges among school-aged children to the Board of Health, a concern intensified by pandemic-related disruptions. The board adopted the recommendation that Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, seek $3.8 million from the Ministry of Health to address gaps identified in a recent Public Health Ontario report.
The proposed funding aims to:
• Support catch-up activities for TPH’s Student Immunization Program (SIP) and assessment of the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) through vaccination clinics in schools and equity-deserving neighbourhoods.
• Increase immunity among residents through the promotion of routine vaccination. The ISPA mandates vaccination against nine designated diseases or a valid exemption to prevent school suspension.
Between 2019 and 2022, Ontario’s childhood vaccination programs faced disruptions due to limited in-person opportunities, the closure of school-based clinics and the redirection of public health resources. TPH encourages parents and guardians to ensure their children receive up-to-date vaccines and then report their vaccination status through the City’s Report Student Vaccination webpage: www.toronto.ca/immunization-co
The provincial funding request to enhance immunization coverage for Toronto’s school-aged population is set for consideration by Toronto City Council on December 13, pending the actions of the Board of Health.
Transition in pandemic response: Closure of TPH fixed-site vaccination clinics
On December 13, TPH will close its four fixed-site vaccination clinics at Metro Hall, Cloverdale Mall, North York Civic Centre and in Scarborough (near Scarborough Town Centre). This closure signifies a transition in Toronto’s pandemic response as provincial funding for emergency COVID-19 efforts concludes.
These vaccination clinics were initially established as a temporary measure in response to a global health crisis to ensure fast, equitable access to vaccines for Toronto residents. Leveraging these clinics, TPH provided a range of vaccines including routine vaccinations for children under the ISPA and SIP, influenza (flu), COVID-19, meningococcal and MPOX. These clinics played a significant role in supporting Toronto’s largest vaccination campaign and ensuring effective outbreak responses in the past three years.
A total of 8.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given in Toronto since January 2021 by TPH, hospital partners, pharmacies and healthcare providers. TPH administered more than 2.2 million of these doses at fixed site and mobile clinics.
TPH remains committed to collaborating with the community to meet the vaccination needs of residents. Primary health care providers and pharmacies are essential partners in delivering vaccinations, especially during the respiratory illness season. Their accessibility, community trust and expertise make them vital collaborators in achieving widespread vaccine coverage for public health protection.
More information about booking an appointment at a TPH fixed-site vaccination clinic and other options for where to get vaccinated is available on the City’s website: www.toronto.ca/Immunization.
“Today is the end of a remarkable era for the City of Toronto, as these vaccination clinics close their doors for the last time. I want to thank every Toronto resident who stepped through the doors across the city to do their part and get vaccinated. I also want to thank our dedicated staff, community partners and health care partners for playing an integral role in the City’s historic vaccination campaign.”
– Mayor Olivia Chow
“As we close the final chapter of the last four fixed-site vaccination clinics on December 13, I want to express my gratitude for the community’s commitment. Staying current with your COVID-19, flu, and routine vaccinations is especially crucial as we enter the respiratory illness season. I am deeply thankful to Torontonians for prioritizing vaccination through their healthcare providers and the services provided by participating pharmacies across the city.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health
“Our vaccination clinics began with the purpose of mobilizing our COVID-19 vaccine response, but they became even more invaluable to our community as many other crucial vaccines began their offering on-site. Thank you to every City of Toronto division that contributed to their success. Thank you to Toronto Public Health staff and our vaccination partners across the city for ensuring we could maintain this important service and help the people of Toronto access life-saving vaccines.”
– Councillor Chris Moise (Toronto Centre), Chair of the Board of Health
“For 25 months, I served as Toronto’s COVID-19 Incident Commander. During that time, we achieved many incredible goals, including the creation of a proof of concept for COVID-19 mass immunization clinics. I commend our residents, the Toronto Public Service and our partners across the city who helped turn that vision into reality during one of the most challenging times in our City’s history.”
– Chief Matthew Pegg, Fire Chief, City of Toronto
SOURCE City of Toronto