Toronto Public Health looks to extend vaccine equity and hyper-local strategy

COVID-19 vaccine dose - Mayor John Tory on site.

On Monday, May 16, the City of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, in partnership with the City’s Social Development, Finance & Administration division, will present an update to the Board of Health on the Community Immunization Engagement and Mobilization Plan. The update contains a recommendation from the Medical Officer of Health to extend Vaccine Engagement Teams (VETs) until at least December 31. Funding for the very successful VETs is set to expire in July 2022:

There is an ongoing need for continued outreach to equity-deserving groups in high-priority neighbourhoods most impacted by COVID-19. New and persistent barriers to vaccination remain, and present opportunities for ongoing outreach and peer engagement. To address this need, the VETs have been a key component of the success and impact of the City’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign, particularly the hyper-local campaign currently underway. VETs have connected with more than 1.5 million community members, since April 2021, to help reduce barriers to COVID-19 vaccines and increase vaccine confidence, access and uptake among equity-deserving communities across Toronto.

A program evaluation found that VETs have been an effective strategy for increasing vaccine confidence, access, and uptake among diverse communities across Toronto, and reducing socioeconomic barriers to government services. VETs operate through 17 geographic and population-based consortiums made up of more than 200 health, community and faith-based organizations:

The Board of Health report includes a request for continued funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health to continue operating the VETs beyond Friday, July 1, 2022. Since March 2021, the City has distributed more than $9.5 million provincial dollars to VETs, including more than $835,000 to Black-mandated organizations. Additionally, Indigenous organizations have received more than $1.1 million to self-determine culturally appropriate vaccine engagement strategies. More information about VETS is available on the City’s COVID-19: Vaccine Engagement Teams Updates webpage:

The current Team Toronto hyper-local COVID-19 vaccine strategy continues to be successful. Over the month of April 2022, Team Toronto partners held 514 mobile vaccination clinics, and delivered more than 10,100 COVID-19 vaccine doses. Nearly 3,400 doses were delivered through the Vax and Ride campaign alone, in addition to the more than 22,000 doses delivered at the City’s five fixed-site immunization clinics:

The hyper-local vaccination campaign continues throughout the month of May, making COVID-19 vaccines as accessible and convenient as possible and to facilitate easy access in places where Torontonians live, work and play in their everyday lives. Clinics will be brought to farmer’s markets, Doors Open Toronto and buildings that are accessible by Toronto’s senior residents. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.

All clinics operate on a walk-in basis to provide first, second, third, fourth and paediatric doses to eligible residents. Residents who prefer a booked appointment can also schedule their clinic visit. A health card is not needed to book an appointment, but a mask is required to be worn, as vaccination clinics are considered health care settings. More information, including clinic locations, appointments and hours of operation, is available on the City’s COVID-19: Pop-Up Immunization Clinics webpage:

Toronto residents are encouraged to get their next eligible COVID-19 vaccine dose as soon as possible. Like vaccines for other diseases, residents are protected best when they have received all of their eligible doses. As COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community, residents are encouraged to follow public health measures including getting vaccinated, wearing a high-quality, well-fitting mask – especially indoors – and staying home if feeling unwell. More information is available on the City’s COVID-19: Reduce Virus Spread Guide:

Source City of Toronto

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