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Hockey hub model allows for more vaccinations per day

Health unit's Dr. Janet DeMille says they can now vaccinate 1,200 people per day, adding the district still has the capacity to add more appointments per day, based on vaccine availability.
Dr. Janet DeMille
Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. (Ian Kaufman,

THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has moved to a hockey-hub format at its vaccination clinic, a move that will allow them to vaccinate up to 1,200 people a day.

Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health for the District of Thunder Bay, on Wednesday said instead of patients moving from station to station, health workers move from patient to patient.

It’s a much more efficient way of delivering vaccines to a greater number of people, DeMille said.

“It uses less of the nursing staff that we would to otherwise get through,” DeMille said. “If we were to try to do 1,200 individuals in a day it would take us a longer period of time and use more staff.”

The health unit released a video on Wednesday detailing the change to its mass immunization clinic. The hockey hub model is so-named because it was first used in southern Ontario arenas and the moniker stuck as it’s been adapted elsewhere.

“We’ve always been able to immunize a fair number of people in our older process, but this just allowed us to be more efficient and even just in terms of the use of our staff,” DeMille said.

This past week more than 10,000 vaccinations were given out in the District of Thunder Bay, the second time in three weeks the region has hit the five-figure threshold.

There’s still room to add to those weekly numbers, DeMille said.

“I think we have more capacity than we’re currently using. We’ve talked about how we’ve been able to ramp up our clinic. Here in Thunder Bay the hospital does run a clinic that they’re prepared to ramp us as well,” DeMille said.

“I think we’re well positioned to be able to get doses in arms, if we were to get an increase in supply.”

Earlier in the day the federal government announced it expects to have received a total of 55.8 million vaccine doses by the end of July, enough to double dose 84 per cent of the 12 and older population, those currently eligible to receive a vaccine.

DeMille issued words of caution, saying just because the vaccines are secured doesn’t mean they will wind up in Thunder Bay.

“I’m always a bit cautious when I hear about vaccines coming into Canada because it has to filter down to how many we’re getting in our area,” she said, “and how much advanced warning will we have, because that’s certainly important in being able to get vaccine out quickly.”

DeMille, asked if it’s realistic to think 75 per cent of the population in the district could be double vaccinated by the end of July, noted it may be tougher to get second shots to people during the summer, when thoughts turn to heading to camp or travel.

The federal government hinted that’s what it might take to see border restrictions loosened even further.

“Their proximity to an access point to get a vaccine may go down ... That may make it a little bit challenging for some people. But I think the goal here in Ontario is to have everybody receive their second dose by the end of the summer, and we’re well prepared to do that.”

The health unit also plans to offer a rural vaccination clinic at the Norwest Arena from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on June 17, offering first doses to rural residents 12 and up and second doses to those 70 and older or those receiving a first dose prior to April 18.

Proof of residency in Oliver Paipoonge, Conmee, Gillies or nearby unincorporated areas will be required. Appointments can be booked by calling 625-5900 or via the health unit’s rural clinic booking page. Limited walk-ins may also be available.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 19 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Wants his Expos back. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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