By Lisa Gervais and Sam Gillett
The local health unit and the Ontario government are teaming up to have the GO-VAXX bus come to the County Sept. 19.
A pair of GO buses have been temporarily retrofitted to serve as mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics as part of the province’s efforts to target those who have yet to receive a first or second dose.
Since hitting the road in August, the buses have visited Canada’s Wonderland, Rogers Centre, BMO Field, select shopping malls, various universities and colleges, farmers markets, festivals and more to provide COVID-19 vaccines.
Now, the GO-VAXX bus is coming to the Highlands to provide COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, Sept. 19, from 1-4 p.m. at Abbey Gardens (1012 Garden Gate Dr.) in Haliburton County. The site is located 10 minutes from Haliburton Village, towards Carnarvon, just off Highway 118.
“We’re pleased to be working with the province and Metrolinx to bring the GO-VAXX bus to our communities,” said Doreen Boville, a health promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit.
“We encourage anyone who still needs COVID-19 vaccine to get aboard the bus and get a first or second dose so they are fully protected against COVID-19, especially as we head into a fourth wave.”
Anyone wishing to take advantage of the GO-VAXX bus to receive a vaccine is reminded to:
• Bring your health card. If you do not have a health card or your health card is expired, bring another form of government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport, Status card, or birth certificate.
• Eat and drink something before you arrive to prevent feeling faint or dizzy while being vaccinated.
• Dress for the weather in case there is a line-up.
• Wear clothing that allows for easy access to the upper arm such as a loose-fitting top or T-shirt.
• Wear a mask that covers your nose, mouth, and chin.
• Do not visit the GO-VAXX bus if you have symptoms of COVID-19. The mobile clinics have come about after all mass vaccination clinics in the health unit area, such as the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden, have closed.
As of Sept. 3, mobile pop-up clinics are being scheduled around the County for those who haven’t received two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“While we did see large numbers of people come through our mass immunization clinics, we know that there are some areas of our region in which the vaccination rates are still lower,” said Dr. Natalie Bocking, HKPR medical officer of health in a press release.
“Mobile clinics are now being offered in some of our smaller communities making it easier for people to get vaccinated without having to worry about transportation issues or taking time off work to travel to a clinic,” she added.
Currently, mobile clinics will also visit the South Algonquin Country Store in Harcourt on Sept. 18 from noon until 3 p.m. Appointments aren’t required for mobile clinics.
The health unit also had clinics at the high school on Sept. 14 and 15.
The health unit reports 71 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the region since June were among unvaccinated people while 10.8 per cent were fully vaccinated.
“These numbers demonstrate to me that at a community level the vaccine is making a difference,” said Bocking.
As of Sept. 13, 83.3 per cent of the region has received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 78.3 per cent have received two doses