Ottawa pop-up clinics help ensure everyone who wants a vaccine can get one

Ottawa pop-up vaccine clinics

Ottawa pop-up vaccination clinics are just one of the many ways that the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health are using to reach certain neighbourhoods in our city.

The pop-up clinics are designed to operate as a one-stop shop for residents in areas that have been identified by Ottawa Public Health as priority neighbourhoods. They are prioritized because they currently have lower vaccination rates and had higher rates of people testing positive for COVID-19.

But, most importantly, they are focused on people who may not be able to book an appointment at a community vaccination clinic due to language barriers, technology hurdles or other reasons.

Locations are chosen that are familiar and in close proximity to where people live. Residents living in these neighbourhoods simply have to drop by and receive an appointment card to secure their vaccination that day.

“There is a constant flow of people all day,” says Pray Bhindi, the Logistics lead and site commander for the pop-up clinics. His regular full-time job is a program co-ordinator with Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services, but he has been on vaccine duty since January.

Ensuring the safety and efficient operation of pop-up clinics requires an extraordinary effort and compliment of 40-plus employees from across the City. Pray huddles with staff to provide any new information before doors officially open. They are reminded of their goal, that everyone who wants a vaccine will get one.

“There are people working here from all over the City. It doesn’t happen without that,” he says. “We have all learned new things. All the skills we have are transferable. We can morph into any position.”

Traffic Services manages on-street signage, By-law and Regulatory Services assists with the flow of traffic in the parking lot and assist with any question’s residents may have before they enter the building. Human Resources, Public Works and Environmental Services, Security Services and, of course, Ottawa Public Health, all play roles.

These clinics are proving to be as successful as they are popular in helping people overcome barriers and getting vaccine into arms quickly. There hasn’t been a problem filling up the allotted appointments for these clinics.

The average time from when the resident arrives at the clinic, goes through the process with near military precision, to when they leave is 23 minutes. That includes the 15-minute wait after receiving the vaccination.

Erinn Salewski, a program manager with Ottawa Public Health is the Priority Neighbourhood Task Force lead and has been working closely with community partners since the City mobilized its workforce to battle the spread of the virus.

“The purpose of the pop ups is to make it easier for residents within priority neighbourhoods to get vaccinated,” said Salewski. “This is truly a team effort and we are proud to be delivering vaccines in these communities.”


The latest on what’s going on in your city – delivered straight to your inbox