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City opens up 5,000 more vaccine appointments for Scotiabank Arena clinic due to ‘incredible’ demand
June 23, 2021
David Rider

Massive demand for a one-day COVID-19 vaccine clinic being held Sunday in Scotiabank Arena has prompted the city to open 5,000 new appointments for it.

Between 8 a.m. Monday and 11 a.m. Tuesday, more than 10,000 people booked first or second doses in the home of the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.

“In response to demand, 5,000 additional Toronto Vaccine Day appointments are now available in the provincial booking system,” the city said in a news release.

“With 15,000 appointments, Toronto Vaccine Day will be on track to break the Canadian record for most people vaccinated at a one-day clinic.”

City officials approached Scotiabank and team owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment last week about using the downtown arena for the event dubbed “Winning Our Shot.”

Clinic organizers, including University Health Network and Michael Garron Hospital, are promising a festive atmosphere with appearances by the Raptors and Leafs mascots, and more.

The goal is to boost Toronto’s rising vaccination rate, and keep the highly contagious Delta virus variant at bay, by beating Canada’s one-day immunization record of 10,470 people set in May at Thorncliffe Park Community Hub.

Eligible people can book their appointment for the Scotiabank Arena clinic, or for vaccination at any of the nine city-run clinics, through the online system by clicking the dark blue button, or by calling 1-833-943-3900.

Anybody aged 12 or older is eligible to book a first-dose appointment. Second-dose appointments will be available for anyone who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before May 9, or AstraZeneca on or before May 1.

Adults will get the Moderna vaccine while kids aged 12 to 17 will get Pfizer, the only vaccine currently authorized for use in children in Canada.

Starting Wednesday, anyone who got Pfizer or Moderna before May 30 will be able to book an appointment at the Scotiabank Arena event or at any of the nine city-run immunization clinics.

Coun. Joe Cressy, chair of Toronto Public Health, called Torontonians’ response to the Scotiabank Arena opportunity “simply incredible.”

“We’re now not only on a path to break the single-day 10,000-dose Canadian clinic record, we have a chance to crush it,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

“In collaboration with our Team Toronto partners, we’re now aiming higher.”

Mayor John Tory will be among the people extending their arms at the arena.

Tory got the AstraZeneca vaccine at a pharmacy for his first dose and had said he expected to get AstraZeneca for his second dose as well.

He changed his mind after federal health officials said AstraZeneca recipients should try to get an mRNA vaccine -- either Pfizer or Moderna -- for their follow-up injection.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, stressed that Pfizer and Moderna can be used interchangeably, with no change in virus protection.

More than 30 per cent of Toronto adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Three-quarters have had at least one dose.

The limited protection that one dose provides against serious illness or death from the virus variant is dramatically boosted by full vaccination, researchers say.