DJs help make vaccination a celebration at Toronto pop-up clinics


As vaccine distribution has picked up speed, some Toronto pop-up vaccination clinics in COVID-19 hot spots are booking DJs to add extra energy and excitement – and make standing in a long line more bearable.

Social media photos and videos of DJs at pop-up vaccination sites across the city have circulated in recent weeks as more clinics have made music part of their distribution strategy.

“What else is more Toronto than random corner DJs playing JB,” reads a comment on this viral TikTok of a DJ at the George Harvey Collegiate Institute pop-up. “The most Toronto thing I have ever seen.”

But pop-up clinic organizers say they are booking DJs because people living in hot spots need a morale boost.

Hot spots in Toronto have had higher virus positivity rates and lower vaccine supply since Ontario’s immunization began rolling out.

Data collected by ICES (the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences) found that between December and the end of March, just 5.5 per cent of residents in the Black Creek and Jane and Finch neighbourhoods had received at least one dose, compared with 22.4 per cent of residents in Moore Park.

The province has since shifted its strategy to re-direct 50 per cent of vaccine supply to hot spots for the weeks of May 3 and 10.

Michelle Westin, senior analyst at the Black Creek Community Health Centre and a pop-up clinic organizer, says DJs help create a positive environment and a good atmosphere for residents.

“People are celebrating, they’re enjoying their time and their community,” she says. “We had people looking out from their balcony and coming out from their apartments, and we were hearing comments from people saying they hadn’t heard music outside in a long time.”

Westin says this is not the first time the Black Creek has booked DJs during the pandemic.

“We actually had DJs at our testing clinics over the summertime. This is a very vibrant and diverse community and it’s a community that gathers and really appreciates spending time with friends and family,” she explains. “It’s really important when people have had to isolate for so long that they’re able to get together and enjoy some music safely.”