Simulation developed by York used for drive-thru immunization at Canada’s Wonderland

(Courtesy of Canadian Press / Nathan Denette)

Amid the current rush for Ontario to get as many people vaccinated as possible, a new strategy has emerged. York Region Public Health has turned Canada’s Wonderland into a drive-thru vaccination clinic. The development of this method was aided by researchers at York, creating a model that provides input on how to best approach the setup of a drive-thru vaccination centre. 

The site opened in Wonderland’s parking lot on March 29 and has been booking appointments with those eligible under Ontario’s vaccination plan. As of now, the eligible age is 70 years or older, though the age limit will change as more doses are administered. 

The site can immunize 1,600 people a day when at full capacity. “The drive-thru model offers the opportunity to book a maximum of four individuals to be vaccinated per vehicle,” says Patrick Casey, York Region’s director of corporate communications.

Being able to get the vaccine from their own vehicle also allows access for people who may have mobility issues, which make them unable to go to a regular clinic. 

Associate Professor Ali Asgary is an expert in disaster, emergency, and business continuity management, and is one of the researchers behind the immunization model.

“It helps to plan for an effective drive-thru and optimize it during the operations by allowing us to examine different scenarios before implementing them,” he says.

The simulation itself is available online to the public to give people a better understanding of how the clinics work. By inputting various values such as the number of lanes, staff at each section, and operation times the user is able to find the most efficient way to carry out the vaccination process.

The customizability of the model means that each site will be unique to best suit the needs of the community. 

According to Asgary, having drive-thru vaccination clinics can easily vaccinate large amounts of people in a shorter time period. “Under ongoing pandemic situations it helps minimize the direct contacts between individuals receiving vaccines and prevents further spread of the virus.”

The use of this simulation allowed for an optimized efficiency, and officials stated that they are now able to vaccinate 265 people within a two-hour time period. 

Asgary says that he continues to work with Canada’s Wonderland, developing a new simulation to help them plan for a larger scale facility once vaccine supply allows it. 

“As part of York Region’s Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, various models including static clinics, mobile units, and drive-thru clinics are being implemented to increase accessibility,” adds Casey.

Due to the success of the drive-thru method at Canada’s Wonderland, based on vaccine availability, more of these kinds of clinics are set to open. A site at SoccerCity in the Town of Stouffville may be opened, as well as the possibility of one at Markham Fairgrounds in the City of Markham. 

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