Stouffville community rallies together to offer COVID-19 vaccine at drive-thru clinic

A drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Stouffville is putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to getting shots in arms.

A group of family doctors have been preparing since the fall, knowing they could leverage their skills and resources when the time came to vaccinate community members for the virus.

Outside SoccerCity, a lineup of vehicles has become a daily parade of hope. People wanting a vaccine sign up through Eventbrite for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment and are able to receive the shot from the comfort of their car.

“We planned it and trialled it in November with the flu clinic,” said Dr. Pearl Yang, part of the team of family physicians from Stouffville Medical Centre behind the operation. “This is just like the flu clinic on steroids.”

Read more: Group representing Ontario family doctors calls for more involvement in COVID-19 vaccinations

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The operation has a series of checkpoints. People are first screened before turning into the stadium, that way if someone is not eligible, the lineup isn’t bogged down. After that, vehicles move to the next stop, where people are officially registered into the COVAXON system, then people are directed to another tent where a health-care professional gives them their dose. After that, cars are sent to an adjacent parking lot where they are monitored by medical teams.

“It is extremely efficient. People can line up and be through to the rest and recovery area in under eight minutes,” said Lisa Austin, who is in charge of the volunteers and staff.

Yang said what has made the operation so successful is how supportive the town and public health officials have been.

“Our flu clinic was like a high school musical or community theatre,” Yang said. “It was the town and their support, they brought their army and they made this like a Broadway musical.”

Read more: Ontario expands COVID-19 vaccine rollout to family doctors, pharmacy pilot to start Friday

Behind the scenes, the operation is a well-oiled machine. The constant sounds of two-way radios fill every corner of the complex, echoing the actions of several team members working together as one.

“This really shows the power of family medicine and how we can contribute during the vaccine rollout in Ontario,” said Dr. Allan Grill, the chief of family medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital, who has helped out at the vaccine clinic.

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“It’s amazing to see how appreciative patients are to get vaccinated and they don’t have to leave their car.”

Yang said she is thankful for everyone who has helped make the clinic a success.

“We have surgeons, we have oncologists, radiologists, other family doctors, of course, and nurses and pharmacists coming to help with this whole operation. It would be impossible without everyone.”

But when it comes to her primary motivation for working the long hours, Yang said it’s her three children that keep her going.

“They can’t wait for the pandemic to be over and for life to be a little easier once again,” Yang said. “If this is what it takes to get their normal life back, this is what it takes.”

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