Although the provincial goal is to have administered 90 per cent of the population 12 and over with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit feels it can reach that benchmark sooner, thanks to the success of its mobile clinics.
"The end of December, I think that's a reasonable goal for the province," observed Andrea McLellan, Director of COVID-19 Immunization Strategy. "Locally, I'm hoping [earlier] in December."
The Health Unit offers mobile vaccine clinics from a retrofitted transit bus. Over a one-month period from September 4 to October 4, mobile staff administered 1,984 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 848 first doses, 1,080 second doses and 66 third doses to those eligible.
The use of the mobile vaccine clinic has allowed the Health Unit to reach people in vulnerable sectors of the population and underserved locations.
"Based on the uptake we've had over the last little while," McLellan said Thursday during the Health Unit's now bi-weekly media availability, "and being able to get to some of those areas we don't historically have the ability to get to, I think December is a reasonable target, for sure."
Although Nipissing–Parry Sound has languished near the bottom-third in vaccination rates by district, the bright side for public health officials is its smaller total population in relation to many other districts means fewer doses must be administered to reach the 90 per cent plateau. Heading into the Thanksgiving long weekend, approximately 5,600 first doses and 12,300 second were needed to reach that benchmark.
According to COVaxON, the province's vaccination reporting system, as of Tuesday, the district is tied for 24th of 34 Ontario health units in the percentage of the eligible population with two doses, at 80 per cent, while Nipissing–Parry Sound ranks tied for 26th of 34 with a reported 85 per cent of the eligible population with at least one dose.
In an effort to increase those vaccination rates, the Health Unit will deploy its mobile clinic to the Northgate Shopping Centre, Tuesday afternoon.