Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout
By Farheen Khan (Get Well Clinic)
In March 2021, Get Well Clinic was selected to organize a pilot COVID-19 vaccination clinic as part of the initial rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Get Well Clinic started by administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to patients aged 60 to 64. As the weeks progressed, and the vaccine supply became more readily available, this age range expanded to 40+, providing increased accessibility to members within the North York community and across the GTA.
Preparing for the vaccination clinic was no easy feat. It involved immense collaboration from healthcare providers and student- and community volunteers. Dr. Kevin Lai set up an easy-to-navigate and accessible booking system for patients on the clinic’s existing and resourceful website. A “how-to” video was also prepared for patients’ convenience, further easing up the registration and booking process. In the meantime, Dr. Lai and Dr. Jeffrey Poon, along with Dr. Anna Yu, Dr. Jiyeh Joo, Suzanna Lai, and Mura Abdul-Nabi took the initiative to plan the logistics of the vaccination clinic; this included training and recruiting volunteers, ensuring proper safety of the volunteer staff, organizing the flow of the vaccination clinic, informing patients and the general public about the availability of vaccines, and more.
“We are incredibly honoured to have been amongst the first primary care clinics to be providing COVID-19 vaccines to not only our own patients but to the general public. As one of the physicians and organizers of the vaccination clinic, I have witnessed the dedication and commitment from all levels of this rollout; from our public health colleagues to our frontline staff and volunteers. It has been truly inspiring to see the willingness to contribute and ensuring we are doing our part in combating this pandemic.
With a vaccination campaign of such magnitude and urgency, we have often needed to make last-minute adjustments and our volunteers have, time and time again, stepped up to the challenge. There has been a collective sense of what this could mean for the safety of our loved ones and communities. Despite these challenging circumstances, our team has consistently been able to provide a professional, welcoming and safe environment to those receiving vaccinations.
We are beginning to see the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel and I am grateful for all the help we have received in helping to make that a reality. It gives me a renewed sense of optimism that even in our darkest times, we can come together as a community and rise to the occasion. Each and everyone of our staff and volunteers have played an important role and we could not have done this without them.” ~ Dr. Jeffrey Poon, Family Physician at Get Well Clinic
To address hesitancy regarding the AstraZeneca vaccines and COVID-19 vaccination in general, two secondary literature articles about the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Janssen-Johnson & Johnson vaccines were written by one of the clinic’s student volunteers.
“When the patients first came into the vaccination clinic, I could sense that some felt nervous and anxious about whether or not they’d get vaccinated, and also about the uncertainty caused by the ample news articles regarding side effects. To provide them with comfort and ease their anxieties, I conversed with all patients in the waiting area after checking them in to see how they were feeling and addressed any concerns I was suited to answer based on the research I had done on the vaccines myself. These conversations provided me with insight into the various life situations experienced by individuals globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, feeding into their hopes of getting vaccinated and returning to the normal pre-COVID-19 lifestyle. My experience at Get Well Clinic’s vaccination clinic has been extremely rewarding and has thus further solidified my desire to positively impact patients’ lives and empower individuals through healthcare.” ~ Farheen Khan, Student Volunteer
The vaccination clinic has provided several volunteers with an opportunity to contribute to their community as part of the COVID-19 response. All volunteers and staff have been working diligently with passion, kindness, and professionalism to ensure a comfortable and easy vaccination process both before and after vaccine administration, for the diverse patients they encounter on a day-to-day basis. Through this experience, each volunteer left their shifts feeling rewarded, with new stories of inspiration and warmth every single day. In fact, this experience has further motivated many of the volunteers to pursue careers within healthcare.
“Get Well Clinic has a large impact on the community as it treats so many individuals, near and far, throughout the GTA. The clinic provides numerous services including walk-in doctor visits, physiotherapy, chiropody, psychotherapy, and weight management programs. Thus, it is fitting that the clinic has adopted a crucial role in Ontario's vaccination rollout effort. As a volunteer, it has been extremely rewarding to contribute to flattening the curve and to receive incredibly pleasant comments of appreciation and thanks from patients. Even more, as I volunteer at Get Well Clinic's walk-in and vaccination clinics, I have had the pleasure of helping patients at both clinics and enjoying warm encounters with familiar faces. I look forward to continuing to serve my community by volunteering at Get Well Clinic into the future.” ~ Michael Sakarya, Student Volunteer
“I had a great experience volunteering at the vaccine clinic so far. It’s such a friendly and nice environment and an amazing way to gain experience for me. It is also a very rewarding experience seeing the excitement and joy on the faces of the people getting vaccinated. Hoping that I can continue helping the medical community during these times.” ~ Syed Turab Hasan, Student Volunteer
“Volunteering at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Get Well Clinic has been such a great experience. It has been wonderful to see so many people coming out to get their vaccine and I feel proud to be a part of ensuring so many people are able to get their first dose and take the first step to protecting themselves. Overall, there has been so much gratitude exhibited by the patients who come to Get Well Clinic for their vaccine and I love to see the excitement as they walk through the door. In a time of great confusion and stress it is great to hear that many patients have been finding our process simple, efficient, and an overall positive experience. It has been great to volunteer with some of the wonderful staff at Get Well Clinic who are dedicated to maintaining a safe and positive experience for each patient who comes through the vaccination clinic.” ~ Hailey Conrad, Student Volunteer
“Working at the vaccine clinic felt like being one of Santa’s elves on Christmas Day. Everyone who came in was so happy and relieved of finally getting a shot of AstraZeneca. The only thing missing was a guarantee that they would get their second shot....” ~ Michelle Pradier, Student Volunteer
The doctors at Get Well Clinic have also done a tremendous job in safely vaccinating over 100 patients per day, while simultaneously ensuring that the patients left the clinic with answers to all their questions regarding the vaccine and its safety and efficacy. In fact, Get Well Clinic has now administered approximately 2000 AstraZeneca doses, and has begun administering the Moderna vaccine as well. The patience, compassion, professionalism, and efficiency of Get Well Clinic’s healthcare providers have been no less than impressive and deserve a great round of applause. A big shoutout to the other vaccinators: Dr. Laura Lee Copeland, Dr. Karen Ko, Tamar Rosenblum and Dr. Javed Alloo for their hard work in helping with vaccine administration!
The vaccine rollout at Get Well Clinic has been a great success, and all the doctors and volunteers remain excited to be a part of your vaccination journey as we near the end of this pandemic. Thank you for playing your role in getting vaccinated and thank you to our healthcare providers and volunteers who have been able to make this vaccination clinic possible. The end is near, and with the resilience we have all maintained throughout this pandemic, we are sure to get a taste of that pre-COVID-19 life very soon.
Please continue to remain socially distanced, wash your hands, and book your second-dose appointments when possible. Take care and stay safe!