KITCHENER -- An Ontario public health unit has developed a so-called “hockey hub” system – using large arenas - to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Grey Bruce Public Health said the plan has already been getting the attention of other health units across the province.

They’re converting local hockey arenas into mass vaccination sites, in which thousands would be able to receive a vaccine every day.

"Practically, it would be a large clinic for a free flow to vaccinate up to 4,000 to 5,000," said Dr. Ian Arra, the region's medical officer of health.

Dr. Arra said they've already converted three sites. They were all field hospitals that weren't used during the pandemic.

The first is at P&H Centre in Hanover, the second at the Davidson Centre in Kincardine and the third is in Owen Sound.

"If we use the hub and mass distribution system, both systems, it would be a matter of days, less than a month," Dr. Arra said.

He said supply would be the only barrier to vaccinating the community. With doses on hand, he estimates it would take three weeks to vaccinate 75 per cent of the population. Conventional clinics would likely take months.

The health unit presented its plan to the province's COVID-19 vaccination task force. They told Dr. Arra to present it to other areas.

Officials said there are many communities with unused arenas that could be used as a hockey hub. They estimate five nurses could administer 4,500 vaccines in a 10-hour shift.

Traditional clinics could likely administer around 1,000 doses in that same timeframe and would need 20 nurses.

Dr. Arra said it would cost $6,000 per 1,000 vaccines, compared to $26,000 per 1,000 vaccines in larger clinics.

The plan will also be sent to the Ministry of Health.