Hundreds of Sudbury area residents took advantage of a new style of mass vaccination event Monday to get immunized against COVID-19 while sitting in the comfort of their own vehicles.
Sudbury's first ever drive-through vaccination clinic is being held at the Real Canadian Superstore at 1485 Lasalle Boulevard, a collaborative effort between the Primacy Medical Centre and Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD).
The event is by appointment only, but even before the event began at 8 a.m. Monday, vehicles were lining up. They were met by traffic marshals moving the vehicles into one of six vaccination stations. There they were met by PHSD staff who did brief screening interviews with each patient, checking out their Ontario Health cards and assigning them to a drive-through station.
One of them was Paul Perron from Capreol, Ontario whose wife works as a personal support worker.
"Well we've got to protect the others. My wife is a PSW. She works with older people, so it's better off to get it done," said Perron.
When asked about the convenience of the drive-through event, Perron said it was easier to book an appointment for an event that was happening right away instead of enduring the uncertainty of waiting for an appointment.
"Oh, it's perfect. It's a lot better, for sure," said Perron as he sat in his Jeep Cherokee.
Moments after his screening interview, Perron was approached by Michele Leblond, a registered practical nurse with Primacy Health Centre. She spoke briefly with Perron and then administered the needle. Perron said it was all good. Leblond then checked her watch and wrote the time on Perron's windshield with a yellow grease pencil.
Traffic marshals then waved his vehicle through to a waiting area, where patients were directed to wait for 15 minutes to ensure there were no adverse reactions.
The news of the drive-through pilot project was revealed only Thursday by Sudbury physician Dr. Dennis Reich, owner of the Primacy Medical Centre. Reich said his team had similar experience when setting up a previous drive-through COVID-19 testing event for workers at the Canada Revenue Sudbury Tax Centre.
PHSD said it was pleased to be helping out at the event and said similar events could be expected in the future.
"Details on additional booking opportunities for this group at Public Health-led mass immunization clinics throughout our service area will be announced next week. Individuals with at-risk health conditions are expected to be able to book through Public Health Sudbury & Districts by phone, and online through the provincial booking system later next week, in line with the provincial schedule," said a news release from PHSD.
Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, the PHSD Medical Officer of Health said she looked forward to more partnerships
“As more people become eligible to book their appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine and as more vaccine supply is received locally, the strong partnership and collaboration with primary care providers provide us more opportunity to get vaccine into arms as innovatively, efficiently, and safely as possible,” said Sutcliffe.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and until more individuals in our communities are fully vaccinated, continue to follow public health measures to further protect one another,” she added.
The drive through vaccine event on Lasalle will continue through until 4 p.m. Monday.
Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com. He covers health care in Northern Ontario.