NEWMARKET, ONT. -- York Region has a new hub for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The centre opened Wednesday at Newmarket’s Ray Twinney Recreation Complex.

On its first day of operation, about a thousand health-care workers received their first shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The clinic is a collaboration of York Region Public Health, the Town of Newmarket, and Southlake Regional Health Centre.

Stephen Trafford, Southlake’s Emergency and Disaster Preparedness manager, says they called the town to ask to use the arena space at Ray Twinney.

Within 24 hours, the ice was gone, and chairs and tables were moved in.

“The whole goal of this clinic is to get the vaccine in the arms of as many people as quickly possible,” Trafford says.

He explains that the arena strips away any roadblocks to moving people through quickly.

“We need lots of space, lots of resources, and the ability to coordinate our efforts,” Trafford says. “We’ve been able to set it up so that it’s smooth and efficient, and everyone is in such a great mood here.”

For health-care workers, rolling up their sleeves brings a sense of hope and relief.

“I’m excited to get it done,” says Kelly Jolivel, a Southlake dietary worker. “My mom’s in long-term care is my main reason, but also working with sick people. I don’t want to get anything. It’s really important to me.”

The clinic administered 700 vaccines on its first day with a goal of 1,000 daily shots.

York Region started administering the Moderna vaccine inside long-term care homes over the weekend. The province expects all the region’s residents of long-term care to be immunized by Jan. 21.

The timetable for vaccinations for members of the general public will depend on availability.

The province expects members of the general public outside high-risk or priority groups to have access to vaccines sometime this summer.

Trafford says there have been early discussions about the possibility of using the Ray Twinney Complex to deliver vaccines to the broader public, but no decisions have been made.