ELORA – The Upper Grand Family Health Team (UGFHT) completed its final COVID-19 drive-through vaccination clinic on July 16.
Dr. Julie Ray, one of about 30 family practitioners in Centre Wellington and Arthur who belong to the UGFHT, said officials adopted the drive-through method because it’s fast, efficient and easy for their patients.
Ray said the team offered the drive-through model for one week in March and April and a few weeks in June as well as the week of July 12 to 16.
Staff used the parking lot at the Elora Community Centre with permission and support from Centre Wellington Township.
“It’s been a mix. Some doctors do it in the office, but it depends on the office setup,” Ray said.
“We can do more at a drive through. And our patients can stay in their cars.”
Unless they walk or cycle to the clinic.
“We’ve had all kinds of people in line. Some walked, a few cycled, we even had someone arrive on a tractor,” she said. “It’s worked really well.”
Ray added the Fergus Lions Club volunteered to set up tents each day during the final rainy week for the comfort of staff administering the shots and the protection of the computers used to record data.
Ray said family doctors have been inundated with questions from patients about the vaccines.
“Each patient has their own concern. I can sometimes spend half an hour with a patient answering questions and addressing concerns,” she said.
“Sometimes it’s a simple question; sometimes there’s more deep-rooted hesitation. A handful won’t get it no matter how our conversation goes.”
Ray added, “Cumulatively, doctors spend hundreds of hours helping patients with their decision making. I’m certainly happy to put in the time. It’s for a really good cause.”
She noted public health sent a bulletin to physicians stating the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be approved for children aged five to 11 in September, so vaccination efforts for this age group will likely ramp up in the fall.
“That’s exciting,” Ray said. “It’s much sooner than I was thinking.”
She added she expects the mass vaccination centres to wrap up this summer, but the vaccines will still be available through family physicians.
“I’m super-proud of our medical community [for administering] so many vaccines. It’s been a real collective effort, and this is on top of everything else we do,” Ray said.
“It’s great to be shifting gears.”