I had the honour of accompanying my father-in-law on the first day vaccinations opened at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. We booked him in the day the system went live, and I couldn’t find anything anywhere on the internet about what to expect at Toronto’s mass-vaccination spots so decided to write some tips so you can plan the visit. Where to park? Should I bring a book? Can he walk the distance? Before I go through it, I must say that the experience was sterile, super-friendly, and very efficient. There were far fewer people being vaccinated than I expected, but on the first day I suspect they were testing the systems and protocols.
Getting a Vaccine Appointment in Toronto
Go to Toronto.ca/Covid19. Click on the ‘Find out if you are eligible to book’ button in blue. You select the group to which you belong (if it’s not there, you aren’t yet eligible). It’s amazing that there is an option for someone other than the senior to book the appointment. You select the vaccine site, and two dates for vaccination – the first and second shot are both booked at the same time. It’s a four month gap. You will be sent a text and email with vaccination confirmation. There is no reminder text sent on the day other than this one.
From the website:
What You Need in Hand to Book a Covid Vaccine on Toronto’s appointment website
- Health card number and also the number on the back (I had to call my father-in-law again for this)
- Address (Postal code)
- Whether you are the person being vaccinated or doing it on someone’s behalf
- Status of your relationship to the person getting vaccinated
- An email address
- A cell phone number (for you or the person being vaccinated)
Parking to Get a Vaccine at the MTCC (Metro Toronto Convention Centre)
This was CONFUSING. Actually the reason I’m writing this is that I had severe anxiety beforehand – about seeing an 83 year old man I hadn’t seen in ages, double masks, about parking, the walk, the wait. The parking is located off Lower Simcoe Street. You want to be at the North Convention Centre parking, which is north of the railway bridge and Bremner Blvd. The South parking is South of Bremner. If you make a mistake they let you take a ticket and circle around. Even the attendant when I pushed the button for help was super lovely.
Park in north lot on level 5 There are A and B lots. Parking towards the right as you go up the ramp is closer to John Street. Head towards John street and go out the parking gates and up the ramp for cars. (They are offering one hour free parking for vaccine recipients. Slide the ticket you got when you entered into the machine in the lane marked ‘vaccine’ when you leave.) Walk towards the exit gates. There is a sidewalk on the right.
You will see vaccine clinic signs in Front Street. Those able can climb the stairs to the second level. There is also a door for those who need a wheelchair or elevator. I would highly recommend a walker or wheelchair (if needed) for getting from the car and through the process. They have some on site as well.
When You Get to the Vaccine Site at MTCC
The facility was huge. Impressive. So organized.
An attendant brings you to a cooking confirmation number verification agent and then you go through a screening at a socially distanced booth. You fill out a four page form on a clipboard. It has questions about reactions to vaccines, latex, and medical issues. From there you meet a person and drop the clipboard into a bin for sanitization. You keep the pen. At another desk they check your health card number on the form, and send you to a person who directs you to a vaccination station.
Vaccination Stations at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
At each station the practitioners have two signs. One for ‘vaccine’ and one to signal they are ready for another person. They are only given one vaccine at a time (I suspect because they need to be refrigerated as long as possible) and today Pfizer was on the menu. The staff only find out the day of what vaccine will be offered. After reviewing the four page form and asking questions about it (i.e. if you are on blood thinners has your family doctor recommended a vaccine). The jab itself takes under a minute. My father-in-law didn’t feel it and didn’t need a band-aid. You are given a slip of paper confirming what time you are able to leave the building.
The Rest Area
Once done you are escorted to a rest area (in the same giant room of the convention centre) where you wait 15 mins or 30 mins depending on what is indicated on your slip of paper. There is a timer on the wall and chairs are all distanced and sanitized between each person. As a support person, you also get a chair. The bathrooms are open for use (paper towel only for hands). Once done, you check out with a staff member who reviews your four-page paper, and gives you a slip that is IMPORTANT. This confirms your dose and next appointment. I snapped a pic of it in case it got lost.
That’s it! Less than an hour in and out. He’s vaccinated, and home safely.. He has had no side-effects from the shot as of now, three hours later. As slowly as our vaccination rollout has gone, I couldn’t be more impressed by the facility and the seamlessness.
For vaccines in other parts of Ontario, you can check by city, or on the provincial website.