As the city of Toronto approaches a new vaccination milestone, it's stepping up its efforts to make sure no communities are left behind.
The city is nearing 80 per cent of residents who have received double doses of COVID-19 vaccines, said Mayor John Tory on Saturday, but in communities around Mel Lastman Square in North York the vaccination rate lags by as much as 20 per cent.
Tory told reporters that the Saturday morning lineup was "very encouraging" but there is more work to be done.
"We have to be patient," he said, noting that many of the people who have yet to be vaccinated are facing barriers to access such as language, geography, or clinic hours, while some are still hesitant.
"The bottom line is you have to, first of all, build it and then they will come," Tory said.
The city is operating a vaccination clinic in Mel Lastman Square in North York on Saturday and Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. both days.
No appointments are required, but if people would prefer to book an appointment they are able to do so by visiting nygh.on.ca. People aged 12 and older are welcome, as is anyone from across the city.
"This truly is an all-hands-on-deck moment," said Rudy Dahdal, vice-president of North York General Hospital. "The vaccination rate in Toronto is strong and getting stronger every day, but there is still more to do."
In the North York neighbourhood, he said, there are still some 5,000 people who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"The data is very clear," Dahdal said, "Almost everyone who is getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19 today has not been vaccinated. Vaccinations save lives."