Public health units in Sudbury and Timmins are hosting sensory-friendly COVID-19 vaccine clinics, for those residents who may struggle with conventional clinics.
They’re designed to be less overwhelming for people with developmental disabilities, autism or other issues with sensitivity like light or noise. Individuals may also use the clinics if they’re fearful of needles, crowds or have social anxiety.
“If people have been to other clinics they know they’re hopping places,” said Sherry Price, a health promoter in the health equity department at Public Health Sudbury and Districts.
“We try to limit that, so we have less lanes; we try to lower the lights. We try to keep it as quiet as we can.”
The clinics will have dimmer lights, fewer people, quieter noise levels and a slower pace. They’re meant for anyone aged 12 and up.
Those attending those clinics are allowed to bring items that may help with their comfort like a fidget spinner, a stress ball, a weighted blanket, headphones or an iPad.
“If we can limit the sensory overload for those people it’s helpful,” Price said.
“It can be scary for you and I, but it’s even more scary for them,” said Ashley Pelland, area manager for Adult Enrichment Centre based in Sudbury.
Her clients with mental disabilities often struggle in these types of settings.
“They have trouble understanding what’s going on and trouble accepting that there’s these new people that are trying to help them, and they don’t understand help like we do,” she added.
Pelland is hopeful that by planning these vaccine clinics, health units are acknowledging that these types of sensory-friendly accommodations are needed for other aspects of the healthcare system.
“It’s just being understanding, caring and accommodating, which is the whole thing with this,” she said.
“I think it’s going to be a very positive step for them, for everybody.”
Pelland does have one criticism with the special vaccine clinics.
“It probably would have been more beneficial to do it a lot sooner than they have but better late than never,” she said.
Public Health Sudbury and District does plan to schedule more sensory-friendly COVID vaccine clinics in the near future, there just isn’t any set dates for those yet.
“It would be great if we could do all of the clinics in this very slow manner. It’s just not possible because we’ve a lot of people to immunize,” Price said.
“We do the best we can at all our clinics but this one is just extra special.”
Morning North8:49Vaccine clinics that are designed to be less overwhelming are being held in northern Ontario