COVID-19 vaccination clinic registration opens in Simcoe Muskoka

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Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health is calling an increase in cases worrisome.

Dr. Charles Gardner said this week that although the decision as to what zone the region is in is ultimately up to the province, he may be advising that Simcoe Muskoka goes back into the grey.

A 30 per cent increase in cases, and the increase in sporadic spread of the UK variant, and a reproductive rate that is surpassing the province are all factors that indicate to Gardner we are moving in the wrong direction.

“I’m watching this very closely. I have communicated to the province my concern about where we’re headed and positioned that we need to be prepared to go into a shutdown again in the near future if we can continue to see this,” said Gardner. “I think this is something that people need to be aware of.”

Most long-term care residents have received both doses of the vaccine and retirement home residents have received their first dose.

Gardner said he believes immunization is helping to reduce the severity of the illness in recent outbreaks.

On March 1, multiple community vaccination clinics will open throughout Simcoe Muskoka, including one in Wasaga Beach and one in Collingwood, to dole out the vaccine, which is still being received in limited amounts.

“We are going to take a very broad approach to make COVID-19 vaccination available to our community,” said Gardner.

Gardner said there is potential for pop-up and mobile clinics, and they will continue to reach more congregate settings.

At this time the health unit is prioritizing seniors over the age of 85, Indigenous adults 55 years and older as well as their adult household members, recipients of adult chronic home care, and what the province deems to be very high priority health care workers.

Gardner warns it will take time to move through those groups of people through March and April. The health unit will be screening people to make sure they fit into the priority groups.

“It’s very important that everybody get this vaccine but it’s most important that we provide it to the people who need it the most first,” he said.

The province has announced that in phase two of the vaccine rollout, from April to July, will include adults 60-79 (then decreasing in 5-year increments to include up to 8.5 million adults 16-59), and frontline essential workers (e.g. first responders, teachers and other education staff, food processing industry).

Phase three of the rollout for the general public, is slated for August to December.

Those eligible can book their appointment online at the health unit’s website at www.smdhu.org or have a family member or friend book for them. For those without access to a computer or internet access, appointments can be booked by calling the health unit at 1-877-721-7520. Proof of eligibility is required and anyone who books appointments and is not eligible will be turned away. Please note that clinics are not open for walk ins.
For more information, visit or call Health Connection to speak with a public health professional, weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520) or at www.smdhu.org.

Online booking begins for COVID-19 vaccination clinics

SIMCOE MUSKOKA –Those who are eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccination at community clinics opening across our region beginning the week of March 1 can now book their appointment online through the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) website. Appointments are only available for those who are eligible, and clinics are not open for walk-ins.

Those who are eligible at this time, in keeping with the provincially identified priorities and local vaccine supply, are as follows: adults 85 years of age and older; Indigenous adults 55 years and older as well as their adult household members; adult recipients of chronic home care; and very high priority frontline healthcare workers (as defined in the provincial priority guideline).

“It is critical to the health of our residents that we move forward with our clinics providing immunization first to those who need it the most based on their risk of severe disease or on their likelihood of exposure to it as health care workers,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, the medical officer of health for SMDHU. “The opening of our clinics is just the beginning. Over the months to come we will work through priority populations to provide vaccination to all adults who want it.”

The clinics are the result of joint work with many partner agencies including Family Health Teams, Ontario Health Teams, community hospitals, paramedic services, community pharmacists, municipalities, Indigenous partners and the Central Region of Ontario Health.

“I thank and commend all of our partners as we begin with these new community immunization clinics,” said Dr. Gardner. “The opening of our clinics to those who are currently eligible to get their vaccination is a critically important and exciting undertaking and could not have taken place without their dedication and hard work.”

Vaccination clinics are located in Barrie/Innisfil, South Simcoe, North Simcoe, the Couchiching area, South Georgian Bay and Muskoka. Not every location will run every day. Pop-up clinics and additional locations will be added as the vaccine program rollout continues in the coming months. Mobile clinics also continue to provide immunization to those in community facility settings who need it the most and are unable to attend the fixed location clinics as well as other priority populations benefitting from outreach.

Those eligible can book their appointment online at the health unit’s website at www.smdhu.org or have a family member or friend book for them. For those without access to a computer or internet access, appointments can be booked by calling the health unit at 1-877-721-7520. Proof of eligibility is required and anyone who books appointments and is not eligible will be turned away. Please note that clinics are not open for walk ins.

For more information, visit or call Health Connection to speak with a public health professional, weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520) or at www.smdhu.org.

A copy of the health unit’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan is now available here.

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