A topical series on helping vaccines stop hesitation, save lives, and ultimately help us overcome the pandemic.
“Pfizer, Modern, Vaccines, First Shot, Second Shot!” A public health worker calls a crowd formerly looking like a game operator, but the warden is actually trying to lure passengers through the subway station.
Prizes are not stuffed toys. Those human lives have been saved, possibly by the steady trickle of people who stop, watch and then roll up their sleeves, each jab pushing Toronto toward vaccination coverage that could help end the pandemic.
The clinic is part of #DaysofVaxtion, a blitz of COVID-19 vaccination pop-up clinics across Toronto that runs Thursday through Sunday in subway stations, malls, schools, parks and even a bathroom .
About 80 percent of eligible Torontonians are fully vaccinated. The city is trying to take that figure to 90 percent in a bid to mitigate a fourth pandemic wave, mostly preying on illiterate people who are transmitting the virus.
Star journalists visited several clinics and asked people getting their first shot, why they waited and what prompted them to finally get vaccinated. The vaccine mandate grew larger with requirements for work, gym visits, and more.
For others it was peer and family pressure, and the convenience of being safe without having to make a special trip to a standalone city clinic.
Many admitted to putting off vaccination for “fear” of the side effects of the vaccine, which experts say poses far less risk to people than COVID-19 and its delta version.
One urged other holdouts to put their fears aside and join the preserve, saying: “It’s a breeze.”
“I’m excited — I was definitely one of the people they tried to target for these pop-up clinics.
“I did not have the means to look at the booking system. Some people are really good at navigating documents and Internet pages, and I wouldn’t say I’m an expert at it. Bureaucratic system, filling up forms, searching for the nearest clinic, coming here to the metro station was not that easy.
“I’m a snowbird and I want to travel this winter, and I thought Pfizer would take me to every country. One of the questions about air travel is whether some countries allow you to enter if you have mixed doses. So I wanted to make sure I could get two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“But I also wanted to hear more about the research, what people saw as most effective and what could be the most powerful coverage for me.”
“All my loved ones, all my friends, my entire family got vaccinated. Everyone I care about is doing it, so I figured I might as well.
“I was honestly afraid of vaccines – I didn’t want to mess with my health for anything…
“My union said they weren’t forcing us to make it work, no one was forcing me. But I said ‘You know what? Give the one I love and care about. Got it, so I’m going to join them.’
“I first saw a clinic here and thought, ‘Hmm, that’s so convenient, I’m going to my house.’ I didn’t understand then, but family members kept pushing me, ‘Get vaccinated, get vaccinated, you’re the only one who didn’t.’
“So I searched online and saw they were doing it here again so I said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to get vaccinated.’”
“My friend and I want to go to the gym and vaccination is mandatory for us. They are forcing us to get the shot – we have to show the paper that says we have been vaccinated.
“I waited because I was not really worried about having COVID. I couldn’t believe the risk was so bad. I didn’t think I was going to get sick.
“My friends and family aren’t in Toronto — they’re all back home. The only reason I get vaccinated is because I don’t want to stop going to the gym.
“Now that I’m vaccinated I can go. It’s people’s choice whether to get the shot or not, it’s up to them. But if Jim hadn’t forced me, I wouldn’t have got the shot.”
“I took the vaccine because of my passport – you’ll need it anywhere you go.
“I didn’t get it earlier because I was hearing all the bad backlash against the vaccine, I was scared because I had heard all the bad things about it. I’m still not scared of COVID.
“What changed my mind was talking about the need for a vaccine passport to go somewhere. I definitely need it for work – I work as a housekeeper and I was refused the other day by a client because I was not vaccinated. Then I said ‘Forget it – I’ll have it now.’
“Then I just happened to walk and saw the clinic here in the metro station and took my shot. I get my second dose in 21 days.
“I like it.”
“I was ordered by the court to do so. This is part of the meeting agreement with my daughter. I had to get vaccinated to see him. My ex asked, and the courts agreed. I didn’t like it, because it took away the election from me.
“I’m not anti-wax, but I wanted to wait a little longer. I could have fought it, but it would take me another year to see my daughter, so it was a pretty simple choice.”
“It was difficult to get it (vaccination). That’s why I’m here, it’s perfect. I don’t want Modern (vaccine) and they gave me an alternative. I wanted to go to Pfizer…
“I also have an anxiety disorder, so, for me, there was no way to go to a big convention center to get vaccinated. It’s cool, it’s open, a lot of people aren’t scared.”
jennifer big canoe
“I got sick. I got scared. I went to the hospital. They released me, said I was just dehydrated. But I was sick, sick.
“I had a head injury, I was vomiting, I couldn’t eat, I was weak. I was crawling on the floor, shaking in the bathtub, sweating, crying. When I coughed So I thought my mind would go out.
“It wasn’t COVID, but after that, I decided I had to get vaccinated, because I didn’t want to get sick again.”
“I got an email that (drum and bass musician) Andy C is coming to Toronto on the 30th and I have to get tested for (COVID) because I can’t get another shot in time.
“I don’t even like going inside places anymore. I think the fun is halfway through the masks. So, I’m doing it for concerts. I can’t wait.
“I’m a programmer, so jobs never forced me (to get vaccinated). I don’t have anyone else to force me to get it. I didn’t worry about getting a virus. I repeatedly- The bar never stopped meeting people.
“Being sick never happened to me. I didn’t get sick, I don’t know for how long. I never get the flu shot. I don’t even like getting needles, that’s probably what prevented me from getting vaccinated.
“We decided to get vaccinated because of the vaccine passport.
“My son (Michael) does sports, he is a boxer, so he needs vaccination to go to the gym. He’s already staying home from school, so we really didn’t want to keep him away from attending his events.
“I really wasn’t expecting to get the shot for kids. I’ve been confused for a while. I’ve been hearing about side effects on the news. They say it’s a small chance, but it’s just now There’s also a chance – you don’t know. I didn’t want anything to happen to her.
“But things are changing now. If you want to go somewhere, you need to get vaccinated.”