Families across Scarborough are expressing gratitude following accessible vaccine clinics, and generosity from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE).

Over 700 Scarborough students, across 34 schools, who rolled up their sleeves during the Vax the East vaccination campaign were automatically entered into a raffle for signed sports jerseys: Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, and the Toronto Argonauts.

Winners were drawn from Emily Carr Public School, High Castle Public School and Military Trail Public School.  Scarborough Health Network (SHN) vaccine coordinator Doreen Kaneko said she was excited to hand out the prizes.

“It’s so great to meet these families, and see their commitment to their children and their community,” she said. “Their personal stories and gratitude make what I do extremely rewarding.”

The jerseys were handed out following the hyper-local vaccine campaign involving SHN and the Scarborough Ontario Health Team (SOHT) partners, along with the City of Toronto, Toronto Public Health, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Michael Garron Hospital, and other Team Toronto partners.

Vaccines were administered to students (with informed parent/guardian consent) during the school day, and community members were invited to receive their vaccines after school hours.

SHN’s Dr. Lisa Salamon was on site for the raffle giveaway at Highcastle Public School. She explained the importance of coming directly to neighbourhoods in Scarborough to administer vaccinations.

“What we have found in areas like Scarborough is that we really need to make vaccinations accessible to everybody. It’s very difficult for a lot of families to take time off work, or perhaps they don’t have the transportation to go to mass vaccination clinics. It’s essential that we are able to go to them,” Dr. Salamon explained.

“In addition, we felt that coming to schools would make it very accessible for children five to 11; getting vaccinated in a familiar area that they are comfortable was critical,” she added.

Emily Carr Principal Ms. Abdulla, SHN Vaccine Coordinator Doreen Kaneko with winner Brendan Cerrato and his father Mr. Guzman

Mr. Arturo Guzman, father of six-year-old winner Brendan Cerrato, said making the decision to vaccinate his family came after a tragic loss.

“It’s been difficult. My father, Brendan’s grandfather, passed away from COVID-19 last year,” he recalled. “We know how deadly this disease can be.”

The signed Jozy Altidore jersey came as a pleasant surprise to Mr. Guzman and his son. The pair are big Toronto FC fans, and despite the star striker’s departure from the team, they still plan to root for their favourite teams: Toronto and Mexico.

From soccer to basketball. Taking home Toronto Raptors signed Pascal Siakam jersey was Highcastle Public School’s Nameshan Sivanesan. Dressed in Raptors gear and sporting basketball shoes, mom and dad also came out to celebrate their son’s jersey win.

SHN Dr. Lisa Salamon awards signed jersey to Nameshan and his family

“For our safety and the safety and protection of the community, we decided to get the vaccine. Our whole family is now vaccinated,” said Mr. Mahathevar Sivanesan.

A signed Jamal Campbell Toronto Argonauts jersey was also handed out at Military Trail Public School.

Thank you MLSE!

Military Trail Principal, SHN Vaccine Coordinator Doreen Kankeo with winner Sainthavi Thiruvarudselvan