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'No stone unturned' as 90% double-vaccinated population sought for T.O.
Oct. 13, 2021
Jane Stevenson

The city of Toronto is on a big push to hit its desired 90% double vaccinated target.

Mayor John Tory said 215,000 people aged 12 and older need to be vaccinated to reach that 90% goal, with 123,000 of those having their first dose and 48,000 considered overdue for their second dose.

“We are leaving no stone unturned,” said Tory at a Tuesday afternoon city hall briefing.

“We will not give up and we will not relent until we have reached people and convinced them to get vaccinated.”

Tory said more than 82.1% of Toronto’s eligible residents are fully vaccinated and 86.6% had their first dose and among other VaxTO efforts, the city is setting up 22 clinics in malls this coming weekend in what he’s calling Shop And Vax 2.0.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said Toronto can’t let up on its efforts despite the city leading the way in double vaccinations of its population over other world-class cities such as New York, Chicago and London.

“I think it’s important to remember our unique Toronto context,” said de Villa.

“Toronto is a vibrant, world-class, metropolitan city, often cited as the most diverse city in the world with nearly half of its population born outside of Canada, over 200 ethnic groups present and over 140 languages spoken.”

Still, most reporters’ questions were about the Tuesday morning closure by Toronto Public Health of Silverthorn Collegiate Institute high school in Etobicoke to 800 students due to transmission of the virus.

De Villa said the 11 cases reported so far are entirely within the student population, nine of which are linked to student-to-student transmission at multi-grade events, activities and social gatherings inside and outside the school.

“To limit any further exposure, whole school testing has been recommended and arranged,” said de Villa, who pointed out double vaccine rates amongst Silverthorn students ranges between 70-75%.

“We will continue to investigate and make recommendations to return to in-person classes and activities as soon as possible.”

She also pointed out Silverthorn was the only one among T.O.’s 1200 schools to face full-scale closure and said the policy issue of mandated vaccines for all public school students was “within the provincial purview.”

Tory was also asked about the TTC looking at the possibility of hiring retired workers to cover any gaps left by current employees who haven’t disclosed their vaccination status by the Oct. 30 deadline.

“I certainly hope we don’t have any widespread or hopefully any people that get suspended or anything like because of failure to adhere to vaccination policy,” said the mayor.

“(But) you have to have contingency plans. And I think the TTC is just doing, as usual, a very prudent thing in reaching out to some of their retired workers to see if they were available if needed.”

Tory also stood by his contentious decision earlier this summer to clear homeless encampments in city parks when asked if he might reconsider the municipal by-law prohibiting them with the cold months coming.

“They’re illegal,” he said. “And I would be shocked if the city council and the city of Toronto were to overturn a by-law that provides for those kinds of encampments not to be a proper, legal use of public parks. I personally would not support that.”