Health Experts and Settlement Organizations Tackle Vaccine Hesitancy in Canada’s ACB Communities- By Esther Ajiboye
Information equity is essential for all, especially during a pandemic. While the COVID-19 pandemic has held the world ransom since the first quarter of 2019, it is no longer news that the burden of COVID-19 disproportionately affects many ACB communities. This is very closely linked to different social determinants of health which marginalize them and put ACB persons at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, falling seriously ill from the virus, or even dying from the virus. Thankfully, vaccines are here, and COVID-19 is well on its way to being nipped in the bud. However, more questions arise: Will ACB communities embrace this breakthrough in research and science? One would imagine an affirmative response to this question.
However, waves of misinformation, disinformation, and a historical distrust in science are some of the many factors that may influence the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in ACB communities. There are already apparent concerns about the vaccines in ACB communities. It, therefore, becomes important to urgently provide accurate, reliable, and accessible information about the vaccines to members of these communities.
Between late 2020 and now, Canada has approved three COVID-19 vaccines for use in the country, Pfizer- BioNtech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines, and have begun administering some of these to most at-risk members of the population. Since a sizeable fraction of newcomers in Canada are members of ACB communities and people of colour, agencies serving and supporting newcomers have commenced initiatives to make relevant vaccine information available to newcomers in multilingual and plain language formats. They acknowledge that many newcomer communities do not have ready access to most pandemic-related information, and sometimes these are provided in languages and formats that they are not comfortable with, or they are written in complex/technical language that does not account for the diverse literacy levels/cultural experiences of the audience.
One such initiative is the Vaccine Bulletin series produced in partnership with doctors, healthcare professionals, newcomer/settlement organizations from Women’s College Hospital, TAIBU Community Health Centre, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, and Refugee 613. Vaccine bulletins are one of several ways to provide trusted information to newcomers in Canada’s diverse communities, raise awareness to dispel myths or concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and make health information available in Canada so that everyone can make informed choices about their health.
Download the multilingual vaccine bulletins here: bit.ly/vaccinebulletin