MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- The London Public Library and Middlesex County Library are stepping in to help health officials reach area residents age 70 and older who have not yet been vaccinated.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) announced the new collaboration Monday as part of an effort to reach people who are eligible but have not booked an appointment.

To date, nearly 140,000 shots have been delivered at the region's three vaccination centres. In addition, more than 80 percent of people over the age of 80 and 65 percent of those 70-74 years old are estimated to have already received their first dose.

But health officials want to see those percentages go higher.

So staff at branches of the area's two library systems will be calling all cardholders aged 70 and up starting Monday to make sure they have the information and resources needed to book.

“There has been strong demand for the COVID-19 vaccines since we launched our public vaccination campaign, but we know that there were challenges for some folks when it came to booking appointments,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health with the MLHU in a statement.

He added that the health unit is "confident" the libraries can reach many who haven't booked and support them through the process.

The London Public Library is expected to reach more than 9,200 residents over 70, and once that's complete, begin calling the 13,000 cardholders aged 60 to 69. The Middlesex County Library is reaching out to 2,000 cardholders over age 65.

London Public Library CEO Michael Ciccone said in a statement, “This is such a tangible way that we can use our skills and relationships with our community to assist those who may experience barriers to booking an appointment or need help finding more information. We’d like our community to know that we will navigate this together.”

Lindsay Brock, director of Library Services for Middlesex County, added it is a natural fit for the library, especially as additional issues may exist for rural residents.

“A number of barriers to access exist for our residents, including challenges related to internet service, so we want to do everything we can to help bridge these gaps.”