By ALAN SHACKLETON
There was a huge line of people hoping to get their COVID-19 vaccine shot at a pop-up clinic in Crescent Town on Friday, April 16.
The massive line snaked from the lower playground at Crescent Town Elementary School, up the hill, through the rest of the schoolyard, onto Massey Square and then onto Crescent Town Road halfway to Victoria Park Avenue.
Resident Zinnat Jahan was at the very end of the line when she spoke with Beach Metro News early on Friday afternoon.
She expected she’d be waiting until after 5 p.m. for her chance of a shot from the clinic being run by East Toronto Health Partners with the support of Michael Garron Hospital for residents living specifically in Crescent Town.
“Six weeks ago this should have been happening,” Jahan said.
“Crescent Town was a hot spot in the first wave. Many people in my building caught COVID and we are at high risk.”
She was pleased though that the vaccination clinic was taking place on Friday for those who otherwise would not be able to get a shot. “It’s good that it’s here today, but it would have been better if the vaccines came earlier.”
The pop-up vaccination clinic in Crescent Town will also take place on Saturday, April 17.
With high densities, economic challenges and many residents working in essential services and unable to take time off from work, Jahan said there were not a lot of options available for Crescent Town residents looking to get vaccinated.
She added the stress of dealing with both COVID-19 and unsympathetic landlords was also making life difficult for many Crescent Town residents at this time.
“We are scared of COVID plus all the evictions being issued here as well. We are losing our health and our homes, and we are terrified and in a panic,” said Jahan.
Beaches-East York MPP Rima Berns-McGown, who is herself recovering after having had COVID-19 last month, was at the Crescent Town pop-up vaccination clinic on Friday and spoke with Beach Metro News.
While she had nothing but praise for ETPH and the hospital for holding Friday’s pop-up vaccination clinic, Berns-McGown was extremely angry with how the vaccine rollout is being handled by the Province of Ontario.
“Half the reason I am so enraged is that this is a hot spot per Toronto Public Health but it’s not on the list of the province’s high-priority postal codes,” she said. “This is the only way people here can get a vaccine.”
The province designated numerous postal codes across Ontario as high priority, which would open up vaccinations to everyone over 18 if they could get an appointment. Crescent Town, which is in the M4C postal code, was not among the 53 identified in Toronto by the province as being high risk.
“The essential workers living here can’t even take a sick day to get vaccinated because they will lose pay and get evicted,” said Berns-McGown who is an NDP MPP.
She said Premier Doug Ford and his ruling Progressive Conservative Party must make structural changes to how they are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic or it will only get worse.
“The concern I have is they are always looking to put the blame on individuals instead of making structural changes, such as paid sick days,” Berns-McGown said.
“They are making decisions on a political basis instead of a health basis, and I don’t see any sign of that changing,” she added. “I don’t know where Ontario is going with this but it doesn’t appear to be helping those most at risk. The fundamental approach to this must be changed or it will just get worse.”