Staff at Toronto’s city-run vaccination clinics have been subjected to verbal attacks, aggressive behaviour and displays of anger from clients demanding specific brands of COVID-19 vaccines, officials say.
The incidents in recent days are inappropriate and won’t be tolerated by clinic management and security staff, who will remove those individuals, said Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, head of emergency services, at a news conference Wednesday morning.
While both Pfizer and Moderna are being offered at city-run clinics, the former is being reserved for those ages 12 to 17, said Pegg.
“Our clinic staff have no ability to determine or control the allocation of vaccines that are provided to us,” Pegg said. “Both our city clinic staff and our Team Toronto partner staff are giving their all, seven days a week to get Toronto vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Mayor John Tory said city staff who’ve tried to help people experiencing homelessness and enforce alcohol and fireworks bylaws have been treated with “contempt” and, in some occasions, followed home, threatened and abused.
“Public servants should not be mistreated,” Tory said. “These are hardworking people working day and night to make sure we get through this pandemic and to the other side.”
Toronto plans for post-COVID-19
Meanwhile, Toronto is preparing to wind down its emergency pandemic response, logging just 17 new cases of COVID-19 — the lowest new case count since last August.
Pegg said it remains to be determined when city-run vaccine clinics and testing sites will close, but smoothly scaling down will be a complex operation.
The day the emergency pandemic response ends will be a day worth celebrating, Pegg said.
“Of course that means that we will have beaten COVID-19.”
The transition will include city hall returning to “normal” operations and people heading back to work, said Mayor John Tory.
“This day is going to come — heavens above we want it to come very soon — and we want to have the best plans in place so they can be relatively seamless,” Tory said.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa added that she’ll be carefully watching vaccination rates to determined when this phase will begin.
New appointments open
The city opened up close to 400,000 new vaccine appointments in July at city-run clinics. More than 100,000 appointments have been booked since yesterday morning, Pegg said.
Wednesday also marked hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and other personal care services reopening for the first time in seven months.
Tory encouraged residents to get a hair cut and tip generously.
“This pandemic has been incredibly tough, especially for these hard working businesses offering personal services,” he said.
Meanwhile, the mayor acknowledged the “searing tragedy” of recently discovered unmarked graves at residential schools in Saskatchewan and B.C., and responded to calls to cancel Canada Day, saying residents should reflect on reconciliation.
The Toronto sign and CN Tower will be lit orange tomorrow in solidarity with Indigenous communities, Tory said.