[Tailored clinics, like the one pictured above in Mississauga coordinated by LAMP CHC, are helping to raise vaccination rates among marginalized populations across Ontario, and are being led by community health organizations with strong trusted relationships with their communities and partners.]
In facing the Omicron variant of COVID-19, it’s possibly the best word to describe Alliance members’ efforts to support, care for, and inform their communities and increase access to life-saving vaccines.
Clinics for Black communities, South Asian communities, Francophones, Indigenous people, newcomers, uninsured people, children and parents, and others. Outreach to seniors, youth and people with distrust of the health system. Working for and with community members to build trust. Meeting people in their community, where they’re at, with empathy, respect and adaptive and evolving supports.
“We're just trying to do whatever we can to support the work of the Ontario Health Team and our community,” said Kim Fraser, Executive Director at Davenport Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre in the west end of downtown Toronto. “Since Omicron flared up, we opened more spaces in our clinic, and we've added additional times.”
Fraser goes on to describe the whole community and organizational effort that’s gone into ensuring that the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking, as well as Afro-Caribbean populations, can easily access vaccines and vaccination information. The centre and its staff have also worked closely with community partners to reach seniors and youth, including with first and second doses, but also third dose booster shots essential to protecting seniors and others at higher risk due to COVID-19 infection.
“We had clinics where the staff could speak Portuguese and Spanish and it really helped some folks whose English is minimal. It was great for them to be able to access a clinic in their first language and their language of choice.”
Fraser went on to note that the close-knit community relationships – between staff and community members, between community members themselves, and between the CHC and its local partners – has made all the difference. In terms of being able to reach people who most need the shot with the right information and access to clinics, and in the experiences that people have when they come and get the shot.
“Our organization is both a neighborhood centre and a community health centre. We have found that people across all of our programs, including the community services side, have been really instrumental in running these clinics. Our community development and health promotion coordinator runs a lot of the clinics and is just great at organizing it and running it,” Fraser added.
“The Toronto Western Family Health Team have been the vaccinators, and we worked with them. We've been really fortunate to get a lot of volunteers who've helped, and they've come to most of our clinics. They're quite experienced at helping us do these clinics. And we’ve heard from people coming to the clinics that they’re run very smoothly. One man told me today his clinic was really well-run.”
By addressing barriers, building trust and increasing access to vaccines, including third dose boosters, community health organizations all across Ontario are helping to keep people and communities safe during a critical phase of the pandemic. By focusing on health equity in designing vaccination clinics and information campaigns, Alliance members are helping bring an end to the Omicron wave faster, and reducing impacts on their colleagues in other parts of the health system. And of course, this is all happening while community health organizations provide ongoing primary care and social supports tailored to the challenges marginalized people face. You can learn more about specifics from the Alliance’s recent webinar, Vax to the Future, via the recordings and slides for the event.
Here are some other recent examples from across the province of vaccine equity in action!
Community engagement via local community ambassadors, Flemingdon Health Centre
Making appointments easily available in Ottawa, Somerset West CHC
Clinics and information made accessible through language, Unison Health and Community Services
Boosting children’s vaccine campaign among racialized communities in Toronto with tailored community approaches, Black Creek CHC
An Indigenous Vaccination Hub, with information, wrap-around care and access to vaccines without an appointment, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health
Pop-up clinic in Midland, ON, offering walk-ins as well for vaccinations, including boosters, CSC CHIGAMIK CHC
Working with partners, across organizations and health sectors, to reach newcomers with vaccines across Toronto, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services
Nimble approaches in Scarborough, providing options such as community clinics and pop-up clinics to boost access, Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities
Drop-in access to vaccines for First Nations, Inuit, Métis people in downtown Toronto, Anishnawbe Health Toronto
CHCs working together and with their partners in Hamilton to reach Francophone and other populations with vaccine clinics, CSC Hamilton Niagara, Compass CHC
South Asian-focused clinic in Ajax, Carea CHC
Debunking vaccine and other COVID-19 myths with tailored information and materials, Wellfort/Bramalea CHC
Clinics accessible for all in Ottawa, with questions answered, Centretown CHC
If you’re seeking more information or would like to schedule an interview with a community health leader from an organization above, please contact:
Jason Rehel, media relations: 416-817-9518 or firstname.lastname@example.org