Starting today, seniors over the age of 80 and some essential workers started receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Southlake Regional Health Centre clinic located inside the Ray Twinney Recreational Complex.
Approximately 1,200 people per day with appointments will be getting the shot.
NewmarketToday was invited for a step-by-step tour of the facility Friday so you can know what to expect when you get vaccinated.
Step 1: Make an appointment.
This might be the most important step. To get the vaccine, you must make an appointment first. No drop-ins at the clinic are allowed; if you show up at the clinic without an appointment, you will be turned away.
If you are over 80 years old or have received notice from your employer or a professional association that you qualify for a vaccine, you can book an appointment. No appointments are currently available in York Region — within the first two hours of the booking system opening today, approximately 20,000 appointments were filled the five clinics locations in York Region, including Newmarket.
As more vaccine becomes available, York Region will resume COVID-19 vaccine booking — NewmarketToday will share the news as soon as it's available.
All appointments must be made online, telephone booking isn't available until the province launches its system on March 15.
If you are an essential worker who qualifies as "highest priority" under York Region's vaccination plan but have not received instructions from your employer, call Access York at 1-877-464-9675.
Step 2: Go to the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex, 100 Eagle St. W., Newmarket
Head over to the recreation complex no more than 10 minutes before your appointed time. Don't go in the front door. The entrance to the vaccination clinic is located at the rear of the building.
Once you arrive, you will be given a fresh face mask, and an employee at a computer will check you in.
"If you don't have an appointment, you won't be able to get in," emphasizes Gayle Seddon, director of community programs for Southlake, which is running the clinic.
A health card is not strictly required to check in and you will not be asked to pay for the vaccine if you don't have one. But you will need some kind of identification. If you are a senior, you will need to show that you are over 80 years old. If you are an essential worker, you will need to show some kind of work ID or other proof that you qualify as a "highest priority" worker.
Step 3: Get in line
Once you are checked in, you will be allowed to head into the arena, where there will be a cordoned-off waiting area, which will have wheelchairs available for anyone who can't stand for very long.
"It's just like Walt Disney World. Just go up and down the snaking line while standing six feet apart," said Seddon.
At the end of the line will be employees at another table who give you the number of which of the several vaccination stations set up in the arena you will go to.
Step 4: Get the shot.
When the person at the vaccination station is ready for you, he or she will hold up a green card.
"When they hold up the green card, it means the vaccinator is ready for you. When they hold up red and green cards, it means they are ready to vaccinate and need more vaccine," said Seddon.
Each of the vaccination stations will only have a few syringes at one time to prevent people from trying to take them. Pharmacists will be on-site to mix the vaccine and provide the filled syringes to the people administering the shots.
Once at the station, the person there will take your name, contact information, ask some questions and get your consent to be vaccinated. Everything will be entered into a tablet computer.
Then roll up your sleeve and get the shot.
If you are uncomfortable getting the shot in public, or your cultural or religious beliefs require you to have some privacy, there are options for you.
"We have privacy screens available, but if those don't meet people's needs, we have a privacy room where people can get vaccinated by someone they perceive as being the same sex. We just want to make everyone as comfortable as possible with the procedure."
Step 5: Sit and wait a bit
After getting the shot, you will be taken to an area with chairs in the centre of the arena to wait to see if you experience any adverse reactions to the vaccine before leaving.
"We are asking people to wait 15 to 20 minutes afterwards, and if you begin to feel uncomfortable to raise their hands," said Seddon.
"We will have 24 registered health professionals keeping an eye them and asking how they are doing."
There is a very small chance someone could have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine, so emergency equipment is set up at the arena to help anyone who has an anaphylactic reaction.
For the vast majority of people who will be just fine, there will be some ways to entertain yourself while you wait.
"While you are waiting, you can talk to other patients, listen to music or use the free wi-fi that is available."
Step 6: Head home
Once you have waited the required time for any sign of side effects, you can get up and go to a check-out table at the back of the arena, where you will be given an after-care sheet with information from the provincial government. You will also receive the date and time of your second appointment at this table.
You can leave a note for the health-care workers on one of the posters in the back, or just follow the signs out to the exit, which will be separate from where you came in.
"We want to keep the traffic always going in the same direction. And Ray Twinney is well designed for that," said Seddon.
Then you get to repeat the process when you get the second dose of the vaccine.