Mass Walk-In Vaccination Clinic This Weekend at North York Civic Centre/Mel Lastman Square

With 80% of adult Toronto residents now having received at least one vaccine dose and two thirds double dosed, attention is shifting to the smaller but critical number missing from that equation. The more dangerous Delta variant has upped the percentage needed for herd immunity to about 90%, according to many experts, and that's what may be needed for the safe return of school, business and everyday life.

This weekend, Willowdale becomes the centre of the city's effort to get there, with two full days of a mass walk-in clinic in Mel Lastman Square and the adjoining North York Civic Centre.

The clinic will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Anyone 12 and over needs no appointment for either a first or second shot. The clinic is operated by North York General Hospital and Toronto Public Health, with assistance from other health partners. The supply is mainly Pfizer (the only vaccine approved for those 12-17), with a smaller amount of the equally effective, safe and interchangeable Moderna also available.

If you know anyone who has been "vaccine hesitant", please encourage them to seek information and to consider getting vaccinated this weekend. This is also a great opportunity for any residents who has had difficulty booking an appointment at a convenient time and location.

As a bonus, the event, being billed as #VaxTheNorth, also offers outdoor activities sponsored by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. This includes free food from food trucks, mascots and musical performances. The Saturday evening headliner will be rock band Birds of Bellwoods, performing on the stage in Mel Lastman Square at 7:30.

Although the vaccinations will be given indoors in the North York Civic Centre (5100 Yonge Street), the entrance will be through Mel Lastman Square, where you can register. The only entrance will be off Yonge Street, at the south end of the Square. Volunteers will be on hand to direct people and provide any other assistance.

Anyone with mobility issues will be vaccinated in tents at street level close to the entrance and will receive whatever help they need to enter or exit the site.

For those arriving by car, there will be a limited number of parking passes available at GWL parking at Park Home Ave (near the Novotel). Also, there will be no charge for the parking metres on Yonge between Park Home and North York Blvd. .

Anyone who has a second dose booked at a later date but would like to move that appointment forward can do so simply by showing up this weekend. If you have an OHIP card, please bring it to your appointment. If not, you can bring another piece of government-issued identification, such as a driver's licence, passport, student card or a pay stub.

Please forward this email to anyone you know who may wish to take advantage of this opportunity. Here's a short summary of why I think we all need to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible:

John's Top Twelve Reasons to Get Vaccinated This Weekend (If You Aren't Already)

Hundreds of millions of vaccinations worldwide and dozens of studies have demonstrated the extreme effectiveness and safety of the mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) vaccines being distributed by the City. Serious side effects are extremely rare - in contrast to the very high health risk of not being vaccinated.

The sooner you get fully vaccinated the safer you and those around you will be. You are not fully protected until two weeks past your second dose, which should take place about eight weeks after your first one. So, protecting yourself for the Fall requires attention now.

Multiple expert independent studies have shown mRNA vaccines to be remarkably effective at preventing transmission of the virus; the small percentage that do still catch it will likely have mild symptoms and are much less likely to transmit it to others.

Multiple studies have shown that fully vaccinated people are extremely protected against serious illness, hospitalization and death from the virus.

Despite high vaccination rates in countries like England and the United States, the highly-contagious Delta variant continues to cause hospitalization and death among the unvaccinated. Take heed.

The more the virus is allowed to spread, the greater the chances that it will continue to mutate into forms that are both deadlier and more transmissible. The only realistic way to slow or halt that spread is to get so many people vaccinated that the virus has few places to go.

A Fourth Wave of COVID is likely in a few months as children return to school, workplaces continue to re-open, and colder weather pushes us indoors where the virus spreads easily. Whether that next wave becomes serious enough to again disrupt our lives in a major way depends largely on how many of us are fully vaccinated.

Although nobody will be forced to get vaccinated, those who don't should expect to encounter restrictions in their daily lives - everything from other countries not letting them in to event operators restricting their attendance to difficulty pursuing careers in which employers will be looking to reduce risk to the public or other employees.

COVID-19 has been full of rude surprises. We are still learning more about "long haul" symptoms that won't go away, and a recent study showed that those who get COVID may be much more likely to need medical attention for other health problems which do not involve COVID symptoms.

Don't you want to give somebody you love a hug without endangering their health?

This weekend's convenient, no appointment clinic at Mel Lastman Square. Getting vaccinated will never be easier.

Our song of the week, courtesy of Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger, is about stepping forward in the face of adversity.


John's Song of the Week - (You Gotta Walk And) Don't Look Back by Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger

On beautiful Friday evenings in July, there's nowhere I'd rather be than with you in Mel Lastman Square. For more than 10 years, it's been my joy to be there on those nights, satisfying my creative ur