Vaccine campaign targets Toronto neighbourhood with low immunization rates
TORONTO -- The push is on to vaccinate residents against COVID-19 in an east Toronto neighbourhood, which has one lowest vaccination rates in the city.
The Taylor-Massey neighbourhood is lagging behind the city’s vaccination average with 59.74 per cent of eligible residents partially vaccinated and 48.3 per cent fully vaccinated. By comparison, 80 per cent of adults in the city have received one shot and almost 70 per cent are fully vaccinated.
“There will not be one neighbourhood, one building as far as we’re concerned that will be left behind,” Mayor John Tory told reporters on Tuesday. “It is too important for the safety of those people, for the safety of their neighbours and co-workers and others, and the well-being of the economy that we get those numbers up.”
The city is partnering with Michael Garron Hospital, to host nine micro-targeted pop-up clinics on July 31 and Aug. 1, offering primarily Pfizer vaccine to residents age 12 and over.
“When you look at who in this neighbourhood is not vaccinated, a lot of them are the 20 to 50 (age) group, which are the individuals who are working and part of me worries that they had to prioritize work instead of getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Jeff Powis, the medicial director of infection control and prevention at Michael Garron Hospital.
The two-day hyper-local initiative will target people living in the M4B and M4C postal codes.
Pop-up clinics will be located at plazas, grocery stores and squares that have been identified as the most frequented by residents and include:
- John’s No Frills
- Massey Square
- Secord Elementary School
- Shoppers World Danforth
- Victoria Supermarket
“To try and make it almost impossible not to bump into us this weekend, to address any vaccine questions or to go ahead and get the vaccine,” Powis said.
In recent weeks, there has been an ongoing effort led by numerous community agencies to encourage people to get the vaccine.
“There is a lot of poverty in this neighbourhood, essential workers in this neighbourhood, as well we have not been prioritized throughout the vaccine rollout – there are language barriers and others that prevent people from getting vaccinated,” said Nadjib Alamyar, the manager for newcomer wellness at WoodGreen Community Services.
He said a team of volunteer ambassadors went door-to-door in Creseant Town Tuesday afternoon spreading awareness about this weekend’s pop-up clinics.
“We share with them the information about the availability as well as the accessibility and making sure that residence come to the proper clinics and get vaccinated,” Alamyar said.
With the addition of more pop-up clinics in recent weeks, Alamyar says more people in the community are now lining up for their first and second doses.
The city is also utilizing targeted telephone voice broadcasts to spread awareness and will be turning to local physicians for assistance.
“We’re going to encourage people to go to them by having local, respected doctors make phone calls to 20,000 people to say this is your chance to get out and get vaccinated, these are people that are trusted and that are known. We’ll be doing these calls in the language people speak,” Tory said.
Hours of operation will vary by clinic, some of which will open as early as 10 a.m. and operate at late as 8 p.m.
Officials are expecting to administer more than 3,000 doses over the weekend.