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UTM opens clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations, tri-campus openings discussed

Spaces could provide opportunities for students to aid vaccine efforts
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The U of T vaccine clinic at the UTM Recreation, Athletics & Wellness Centre. ASIF AISHA IBRAHIM/THE VARSITY
The U of T vaccine clinic at the UTM Recreation, Athletics & Wellness Centre. ASIF AISHA IBRAHIM/THE VARSITY

On March 1, U of T opened a vaccination clinic at the UTM Recreation, Athletics & Wellness Centre to support the ongoing national vaccination effort. Peel Public Health oversees the clinic, and Trillium Health Partners (THP) administers the vaccines in the Peel region for those who are eligible.

Through this initiative, U of T plans to play an important role in supporting the national mass vaccination effort. The THP clinic has the capacity to deliver 2,000 doses per day with room to grow to a capacity of up to 4,000 doses per day in the upcoming months. 

Discussions of additional clinics at UTSC and UTSG are ongoing.

U of T’s role in vaccine efforts 

U of T President Meric Gertler said in a U of T News article that the university is offering space and equipment, including ultra-cold storage freezers to store the vaccines. 

The clinic will administer the vaccine in accordance with provincial guidelines, starting with essential health care workers, elderly people, and those who are immunocompromised or at high risk before moving on to the general public. Members of the U of T community will fall under the same priority plan.

In an email to The Varsity, Omar Khan, an assistant professor at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, wrote that he believes centralizing the space where vaccines are administered and stored increases efficiency and minimizes waste. 

“Once a vaccine vial is opened, there is a window in which you can use the vaccine before it expires. Having things centralized is one way to make utilization efficient so we don’t waste any vaccine,” wrote Khan. 

Student involvement in vaccinations

The UTM clinic, and vaccine clinics at other campuses if they are implemented, may present opportunities for students and community members to get involved and support the university and health care professionals in the vaccination effort. 

Dr. Salvatore Spadafora, the head of U of T’s COVID-19 response group, said in a U of T News article that the university will be offering vaccination spaces as they are needed, and that students in health faculties, such as medicine, nursing, and pharmacy, may be called on to assist. 

If the university returns to in-person operation as its recent announcement suggests, it is unclear whether vaccination will be mandatory for students to be allowed back on campus. Spadafora said that the university will follow provincial guidance in that matter.

— With files from Jessica Han