After last week’s news of the COVID-19 mass immunization clinics (MICs) closing in August, Dr. Elaine Ma, along with a small team, took a mobile vaccination unit, which they dubbed the Vaccine Roadshow, for a stroll around downtown Kingston on Saturday, Jul. 17, 2021.
Dr. Ma, a primary care physician and strong supporter of the COVID-19 vaccination initiative here in KFL&A, said a group of volunteers who have been participating in the vaccine rollout are concerned that numbers at the MICs are down and many people still have appointments booked in August and September.
“All of those doses need to be moved up, but we are having difficulty reaching everyone,” Dr. Ma told Kingstonist in an email. “The majority of the MICs will be closing August 2, so it is essential that the 40,000 people awaiting their second dose appointment get their shot now, and not wait.”
The travelling Roadshow team consisted of Dr. Ma; Dr. Jaqueline Sproule, a family medicine resident; Tricia Anderson, RN, a volunteer who also works at the Beechgrove Assessment Centre and Vaccine Clinic; Ashley Hendry, a volunteer who is the manager of the Beechgrove Assessment Centre; Marc Goudie, Deputy Chief EMS; Arthur Anderson, a volunteer who is a Queen’s Security Guard; and Alex Duggan, a high school volunteer who has been at every one of the mass clinics at Richardson Stadium.
Despite the rainy weather, the team took to the waterfront, taking a route that started at Gord Downey Pier. They walked through Breakwater Park and the waterfront trail, to McDonald Park, City Park, and the Kingston Yacht Club. They then continued along the waterfront trail, to the ferry docs, Market Square, up Princess to Saint Andrew’s Church, then circled back to Gord Downie Pier.
One local mother, Laura Watt, finally got her second dose of the vaccine, 80 days after her initial dose, thanks to Dr. Ma’s mobile clinic. Her children had to be tested for COVID on the day of her second shot appointment, and she was forced to postpone her appointment.
“There are barriers to being vaccinated that are hard to see,” Watt said. “Although your children are welcome to join you at your appointment it’s a daunting task. With Covid regulations, it is still difficult to find childcare, especially without family close by. Parents of new babies and toddlers are hesitant to bring them to vaccine clinics.”
Watt went on to say that transportation is also a major factor, especially when we are not yet ready to return to busses, taxis, and rides from friends. “I saw on Twitter that the Vaccine Roadshow was at Breakwater Park which is one block away from my house. Being close to dinner time it wasn’t possible for me to go even though it was so close,” she explained. “I optimistically tweeted asking them to come to me and they did! I am so thankful they could do this for my family. Having the ambulance come was so exciting for my kids.”
Dr. Ma shared their rainy-day turnout: The Roadshow gave out 27 shots. Nine were first doses, 18 were second doses, and Dr. Ma said the recipients were from a variety of social situations.
Dr. Ma said the Vaccine Roadshow was met with open arms. “Cheers, rounds of applause, people encouraging their friends to get vaccinated, and a son who talked his hesitant mom into a second shot,” Dr. Ma shared. “Couldn’t have asked for a more uplifting experience! We will be back. Hopefully, on a non-rainy day, we will find more people who need vaccines. In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to go to the PH website to book a second vaccine in July!”
Residents who need a ride to their upcoming vaccine appointment may also visit the Ontario Community Support Association website to request a ride to their vaccination appointment.