Changes are coming to COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Simcoe Muskoka starting this weekend.

As of Saturday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is opening its community clinics to walk-ins only.

With about half the region’s 45,000 kids aged five to 12 having received the first dose, there is a push to get them fully vaccinated. Just one-in-three local kids have two doses of the vaccine.

“Get those vaccinations at the time interval that you’re able to and really protect yourself and those around you that can’t be vaccinated,” said Deanna Thompson, SMDHU’s acting immunization program vice president. “Especially, the younger population at this point, the under four.”

The Sperling Drive clinic will remain open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10-6 through April to get as many kids under the age of 12 vaccinated.

“We’re just encouraging everyone. You don’t need an appointment,” said Amy Wardell, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s (RVH) COVID-19 vaccination clinic manager.

“If you are concerned or worried, you don’t know if it’s time for your second dose, just give us a call or pop in. We’ve got experts here all the time.”

The health unit is giving residents aged 12-17 booster two six months after the second dose, instead of three months for a booster for those aged 18 and older.

About 31 per cent of residents in the area aged 18 to 29 have booster doses, with different criteria for the time between doses based on age and health requirements.

The RVH-run Sperling Drive vaccination clinic remains the only community clinic in the region open to both walk-in and booked appointments.

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