OTTAWA -- Mass vaccination clinics are popping up all over Ontario, but in Arnprior they are testing out a new way of administering them, and they have the data to prove how efficient it is.

Arnprior District High School was turned into a drive-thru vaccination site, where just a few weeks ago, Dr. Ian Callow received his shot.

“It was excellent,” says Callow. “I mean, it was so well organized. We were really pleased with it. You just move up in the line and went around the corner and there were three spots for them to give the injections. All very smooth and you know, bang, you had your arm out and injection done. I mean I think from start to finish I was there probably maybe just over 20 minutes.”

When planning something like this, efficiency and speed is a top priority. Jeff Dodge is the Acting Commander of the Renfrew Paramedic Service. He’s also in charge of setting up the drive-thru vaccination sites.

“When the volume increases, a savings of 10 or 15 or 20 seconds per patient doesn’t seem like very much until you multiply it by a thousand patients,” says Dodge.

He says the drive-thru model allows for a continuous flow of patients to be vaccinated while at the same time maintain physical distancing.

“The model shows that we can probably drive easily 100 cars per hour through. If we want to run a 12-hour day we could do a thousand if we had enough vaccines.”

What makes something like this possible is a new artificial intelligence software that can track, simulate and predict how many cars a site can handle based on specific parameters set by the user.

The software, called AnyLogic, shows an animated map of the vaccination site. Cars pass through the different sections and the user can speed up the demonstration to see where the bottlenecks happen, and adjust the booking reservations accordingly.

AnyLogic drive-thru simulation
(AnyLogic software running another simulation of a drive-thru vaccination site.)

Ali Asgary, Associate Professor of Disaster and Emergency Management at York University is the brains behind the software.

“They estimate the number of people that can be vaccinated in a potential pre-designed mass vaccination clinic,” says Asgary. “So, it gives them some planning tools for operating these kind of clinics. In terms of numbers, definitely they can have more people vaccinated compared to others.”

“The data shows quite conclusively, you can get more people through a drive-thru clinic than you can through a walk in,” says Dodge, “and that becomes important as the numbers come up.”

But the numbers can't come up, until the vaccines come in. Dodge says that right now they are vaccinating about 84 patients per hour, with room to go even higher.

Another drive-thru site is planned for Thursday, March 25 at the Nick Smith Centre in Arnprior.