LONDON, ONT. --
The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) will be opening its third COVID-19 vaccination centre on Thursday.
The health unit hosted a walk-through of the clinic at the North London Optimist Community Centre (NLOC) Wednesday morning for media. The centre is located in northeast London at Highbury Avenue and Cheapside Street.
The first person to be vaccinated at the new location was 88-year-old Shirley Banks, a cancer survivor who says her family was her motivator to get vaccinated.
“My kids really wanted me to have it, one of them really broke down when she found out I was getting the vaccine,” said Banks.
Banks says she is looking forward to getting together with her family and celebrating her belated birthday once she has received her second dose of the vaccine.
“You've got to have a good outlook on life, and that’s what I believe,” she said.
Councillor Josh Morgan says we are in a race against the variants of concern, and the opening of NLOC is a significant part of the vaccination effort.
“Instead of waiting for vaccine, we’ve used this downtime to build up a remarkable vaccine delivery infrastructure complete with personal, medical resources, and the necessary space to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible."
At the height of mass vaccination, the MLHU hopes to be able to administer up to 10,000 shots a day.
MLHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says London now has both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Both are two-shot regimens. The new clinic will be administering the Moderna vaccine beginning on Thursday.
Canada has put in new guidelines that differ from those set by the manufacturers, allowing the provinces to space out doses by upwards of four months.
Mackie says this is a positive from the public health perspective.
"One dose of the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer or Moderna is very effective after two weeks. The second dose is primarily to prolong the effectiveness of that immunity. And actually research shows, the longer you prolong the second dose, the better long-term immunity you have."
As of midday Wednesday, the MLHU said there were still 200 vaccination appointments available at the new centre for Thursday.
The new location has limited parking, but the city has put in place various methods to get clients into the building.
These include drop off at the front door, and overflow parking at Stronach Arena, which will include a wheelchair accessible shuttle bus that will run every 15 minutes.
Health officials are asking the public to arrive no more than 10 minutes prior to their appointment to ease congestion and flow through he building.
The other vaccination clinics already open are the Agriplex in the Western Fair District and the Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges.
The health unit also plans to open a site at the Earl Nichols Recreation Centre in the near future.
- With files from CTV's Justin Zadorksy