The city of Toronto says it is ramping up its efforts to offer COVID-19 vaccines to education workers and students as the virus continues to spread widely across the province.
On Monday, provincial health officials said students and teachers would return to online learning in a bid to stem the spread of the virus. They are scheduled to head back to the classroom on Jan. 17.
In a press release issued Thursday, the city of Toronto said it will hold four city-run immunization clinics specifically for education workers ahead of the set back-to-school date.
The clinics will be held this Sunday, Jan. 9, and next Sunday, Jan. 16. According to the release, Toronto school boards are working with city to schedule employees for vaccination appointments.
“This will help more than 3,500 education workers get vaccinated as soon as possible,” the release reads.
The city also said more than 27 school based clinics will be held over the next two weeks which will help to students, their families and education workers receive their COVID-19 vaccines.
“Team Toronto is working with hospital and Ontario Health Teams as well as with the school boards to offer more school-based clinics in areas where vaccination rates need to be increased,” the city said.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city is working to add “even more” of these clinics.
“As of this moment there will be 27, including 22 public health clinics now planned to be held in the schools over the next two weeks,” he said.
Tory said throughout the pandemic, Toronto Public Health has “worked to support in-class learning and help children and teens get vaccinated against COVID-19.”
According to Tory, the city also said it is redeploying Toronto Public Health staff to work on additional school-based clinics.
He said the clinics will be focused on vaccinating students and education workers at “several schools.”
Since November, the city says 244 school vaccination clinics have been held across Toronto.
“Schools are essential for the health, development and wellbeing of children, and Toronto is supporting school boards to safely return to in-person learning in schools as quickly as possible,” Tory said.
To date, the city said 92 per cent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 have received their first COVID-19 shot. Eighty-eight per cent have received two doses.
What’s more, the city said 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have also been administered to children between five and 11 in “just over a month,” with 45 per cent having now received their first dose.
Coun. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, said schools are “essential to our kid’s health, development and wellbeing.”
“We have a collective duty to urgently do everything we can to ensure schools can safely reopen,” he said in the release.
The announcement comes as provincial officials announced 13,339 new COVID-19 cases had been detected in Ontario. Currently, 2,279 people are hospitalized with the virus across Ontario.
On Wednesday, more stringent public health measures were put into place in Ontario. Indoor dining is now banned, gyms have been closed and capacity limits have now been put into effect.
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