Strengthening Partnerships to Achieve Vaccine Equity in OttawaApril 29, 2021
Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has started in Ottawa during the month of April, expanding the eligibility for vaccination to immigrant and racialized people over 18 years of age, living in the COVID-19 hardest hit neighbourhoods.
Due to the complex nature of the vaccine rollout for this second phase, that will cover a large part of Ottawa’s population, joint efforts have been undertaken by OLIP partners to enhance the COVID-19 vaccine uptake within eligible immigrant and racialized people in the hardest hit, low income neighbourhoods.
In order to achieve vaccine equity in Ottawa, it is essential that barriers are removed while concerns and questions regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine are addressed through multilingual and multicultural approaches, reflective of our diverse community.
In this regard, multilingual and cultural appropriate Town Halls have been celebrated for the African Caribbean Black (ACB) community in collaboration with Black Ottawa Connect, as well as for the Somali community, along with Mandarin, Vietnamese and Spanish language sessions.
Furthermore, existing collaborative work has been expanded. Community Development Framework (CDF) has contracted 20 racially and culturally diverse resident leaders, speaking 11 languages to support COVID-19 outreach in their neighbourhoods across Ottawa. The resident leaders are working with OPH and the Ottawa Health Team to share relevant COVID-19 vaccine information and help raise vaccine confidence, as confirmed by the CDF facilitator Tammy Corner. Also, many community members are engaging to help others register online for their vaccines.
To further engage our youth, who currently play an essential role as language and technological connectors to elder generations, work has been coordinated between CDF, the Neighbourhood Ambassador Program from the City of Ottawa and the Boys and Girls Club to circulate information and technology.
Community Health Centres and Community Resource Centres that are rooted and trusted within their diverse communities, keep not only providing essential services and wrap around supports for their clients, as is the case of the Ottawa Newcomer Centre, but also through their Community Practice, are providing training to people actively working in the field and multilingual information sessions.
The Coalition of Local Agencies Serving Immigrants is also coordinating with OPH and the Ottawa Health Team to provide assistance from a communications perspective as trusted members of the newcomer communities they serve. They can also help in removing logistical barriers such as transportation through their community support network.
To aid in the coordination of communications, a COVID-19 vaccine information tool kit is currently being developed by OPH and will be available on their website, so that people can be having their conversations within the community. “We really want everybody to have the information they need both for themselves and to talk to others, may it be a single person or to a group, a client, a neighbour, a friend or a family member” Erinn Salewski, Program Manager of Community Operations at Ottawa Public Health.