GODERICH, ONT. -- The phone’s been ringing off the hook at the Huron-Perth Health Unit.

Since opening appointments up to those over the age of 80 on Wednesday afternoon, 3,500 appointments have been booked, temporarily shutting down the online and phone booking system.

“We like being busy vaccinating people, much more than we like being busy following case and contacts,” says Huron-Perth’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Miriam Klassen.

Clinics for those 80 and up open in earnest next week in Huron-Perth, with clinics at community centres and arenas in Stratford, Wingham, Milverton and Goderich, where they’ve already held two pilot clinics for high-priority health care workers.

Huron-Perth COVID-19 vaccination clinicHuron-Perth COVID-19 vaccination clinic on March 4, 2021. (Scott Miller/CTV London)

“Our first clinic, we ended up getting 264 individuals through our centre here. I’m happy to report, through that clinic, we had zero wasted doses,” says Dr. Paul Gill, who is helping to co-ordinate and fulfill Huron-Perth’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

As long as supply holds up, Gill envisions clinics running continuously for the next several months in arenas and community centres across Huron and Perth Counties.

Huron-Perth COVID-19 vaccination clinicA Huron-Perth COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Scott Miller/CTV London)

In Goderich at its peak, he envisions vaccinating between 1,000 and 1,500 people a day at the Sifto Arena.

“The government has signaled, I think slightly aspirationally, to reach a goal of 10,000 vaccines per region or public health unit, per day. That may mean we’re actually spanning multiple sites at the same time, to hit 10,000,” says Gill.

After overwhelming the system on day one, booking vaccination appointments in Huron-Perth will resume Friday morning at 9 a.m.

“It is frustrating, it seems frustrating, but we are on track, and we’re going to make it. The vaccines are here now, and they’re coming fast and furious, so let’s be positive,” says Goderich Mayor John Grace.

Starting again Friday at 9 a.m, people over 80 and indigenous residents over 55 can book appointments by visiting www.hpph.ca/vaccine or by calling 1-833-753-2098.