Calgary has found a large discrepancy in vaccination rates across neighborhoods in the city. GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA
Transportation, language, and registration are major barriers to improving vaccine uptake in northeast Calgary, said a Center for Newcomers executive.
In the COVID-19 update at the Emergency Management Committee meeting in Calgary on Tuesday, city councils heard the discrepancy in vaccination rates between the east and west sides of Calgary. East Calgary, especially the northeast, is below 50 percent while the west is much higher. Access to vaccines for all Calgarians remains paramount to the city’s plans to reopen this summer.
Count. George Chahal, whose District 5 covers the northeast of the city, pointed to vaccination rates of 39.8 percent in that quadrant. It’s the lowest in Calgary.
Vaccine rates in Calgary, according to city data. PRESENTATION OF THE CITY OF CALGARY
“From what I’ve heard, people want to get vaccinated, but it’s the barriers to accessibility. What do we do and how do we work to break these barriers and get more people vaccinated in their communities? ”Said Chahal.
Calgary Emergency Management Agency director Sue Henry said her team is working closely with the Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative to identify the specific barriers that individuals face in these areas of the city.
“It’s one of the areas where we are currently spending a lot of time breaking down some of these barriers so that all Calgarians can have access to a vaccine,” said Henry.
Thousands of Calgarians face systemic barriers
Anila Lee Yuen, CEO of the Center for Newcomers, said that many of these obstacles are systemic.
Lee Yuen said transportation and access can be huge challenges for people trying to get to vaccination centers. Registering for an appointment is another obstacle, she adds.
“You have to register online. This is also a major hurdle for many people. The other point is that if you’re someone who works shifts, you may have two or three part-time jobs, Lee Yuen said.
“You don’t know what your schedule is two to three weeks in advance, it is extremely difficult for you even if you are able to access the internet, navigate to the website, and make the booking.”
Henry pointed out that the city has advocated mobile and drop-in-based vaccine clinics and sites. These are aimed at communities with lower vaccination rates and the homeless population.
“We continue to work with local medical groups to ensure that if they are able to offer vaccinations to the community, we can support the logistics behind it, increase the number of hours, increase availability and eliminate some of the myths surrounding it the hesitation of vaccines, ”said Henry.
Ethnocultural diversity is not necessarily a factor
Chahal also raised the issue of ethnic diversity in these areas and whether this played a role in vaccination rates across Calgary.
Henry said that race-based data is available on the general population, but that more specific information about vaccination rates in different communities is purely anecdotal. This information is primarily provided by the Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative.
“We can’t get the granularity of data from Alberta Health or Alberta Health Services that would give us the specific demographic information about the rate,” said Chief Henry.
Lee Yuen said she didn’t see many differences in vaccine uptake among ethnic-cultural groups, but rather in those facing systemic barriers.
She said visiting clinics are incredibly important in getting more Calgarians vaccinated in the East Zone, especially because many of them are vital or shift workers.
Breaking down language barriers is also important.
“The ability to provide the native language information in a variety of ways to trusted resources is also extremely important in breaking down barriers to vaccination,” said Lee Yeun.
She added that help is always available for Calgarians whose first language is not English.
“If people need help with COVID in their native language, they can call 1-833-217-6614. And if you prefer English, please call 211, ”said Lee Yuen.