On Jaunary 26, 2022, the Alliance for Healthier Communities hosted "Vax for the Future: Equity, Community, and Trust." This 90-minute webinar featured stories about tailored and community-based COVID-19 vaccionation from Centre Francophone du Grand Toronto and the TAIBU, Somerset West, and Woolwich Community Health Centres. 

This virtual event examined deep-rooted social and health inequities brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic that have blocked a sustainable and just recovery for all. These barriers underscored how challenging it can be for members of vulnerable populations to access necessary health information and services, including COVID-19 vaccinations. 

We invited primary care providers, health system leaders, policy influencers, and all those interested in equitable approaches to overcoming vaccine hesitancy and distrust in marginalized populations to join us for this this virtual event. Panelists described their innovative practices, discussed barriers and facilitators, and shared lessons they learned as they worked to increase vaccine confidence and uptake. Participants were provided with strategies for the current pandemic as well as for future immunization campaigns and health care services.

During this event, we identified the following key enablers for effective strategies promoting vaccine uptake in priority populations:

  1. Establish and build on trusted relationships within the community, and leverage existing community relationship strengths (e.g. hiring from the community, volunteer networks, etc.).
  2. Be creative, collaborative and nimble when addressing vaccination barriers as the pandemic has evolved. Having linguistic and culturally appropriate staff dedicated to community outreach, collaboration across health/social systems partners, and targeting supports to specific populations were all recommended interventions.
  3. Sustain investments, resources and support for grassroots needs-based approaches. Ensure responses are consistent and make testing, or additional information, widely available.

This event featured predominately English-speaking presenters, with live French interpretation available. To learn more, you can access the slide deck and recording (FR) here.

For more resources on vaccine promotion, check out the Alliance’s Resource Library. This virtual event and the vaccine outreach efforts highlighted were supported by funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)’s Immunization Partnership Fund (IPF) as part of Alliance for Healthier Communities’ Community Vaccination Promotion – Ontario (CVP-ON) project.

Watch the video below or access the slide deck here

Featured panellists:

Estelle Duchon

Estelle Duchon is the Director of primary care, mental health, health promotion, child and youth developmental services at Centre Francophone du Grand Toronto. Before that, she was the executive director at Entité 4, one of the 6 French Language Services Health Planning Entities.

Gebre Berihun

Gebre Berihun is the Manager of Community Programs and Services at Woolwich Community Health Centre, serving a large region of rural communities.  Before his role as the Manager, Gebre was a Health Promoter at the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre and at Woolwich Community Health Centre.

Nimo Farah

Nimo Farah is the Program Manager at Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre (ONHC), part of Somerset West CHC. ONHC provides access to tailored primary care, mental health and concealing, and system navigation services to newcomers, refugees and immigrants. Prior to this role she was the Program Administered of Ottawa Language Access first interpretation program to be incorporated into a community health center.

Frederic Buyana

Frederic Buyana speaks five languages and is a mental health navigator for the African Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities at Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre (ONHC), part of Somerset West Community Health Centre. His position includes mental health case management and COVID-19 outreach to the ACB communities.

Amna Iqbal

Amna Iqbal coordinates the vaccine clinic and outreach at TAIBU Community Health Centre, with focus on reducing barriers and providing care to Greater Toronto Area’s Black-identifying communities from an Afrocentric Model for Black Health and Wellbeing.