Black Canadian leaders say governments should do more to help overcome vaccine hesitancy in their communities.
Toronto orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ato Seki Otto, health care task force leader at the Black Opportunity Fund, says a new survey confirms unpublished public health data that vaccination frequency is higher among black Canadians than among whites or racially non-blacks. .
“There is a 20-point gap in terms of the vaccination rate for black Canadians compared to the Canadian average,” Seki-Otto said in an interview. “When you look at confidence in a vaccine, unvaccinated black Canadians are unlikely to say that they will definitely get the vaccine.”
Sekyi-Otu said the Black Opportunity Fund has partnered with the African-Canadian Civic Engagement Council and an innovative research group to try to understand why black Canadians are getting vaccinated in smaller numbers.
scanning It found that as of early June, when more than 60 percent of Canadians had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 45 percent of black Canadians surveyed said they had at least partially vaccinated, compared to 65 percent of whites. . Canadians and 43 percent of visible non-black minorities.
Sixty percent of black Canadians surveyed who did not get at least one dose expressed some level of reluctance to get vaccinated, compared to 55 percent of white Canadians and 44 percent of visible non-black minorities.
The numbers are in line with Toronto vaccination data
The numbers are in line with vaccination data for Toronto, where neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates also have some of the largest black populations.
Addressing hesitancy in black communities will require a “variety of policy shifts” from the government that take into account language needs, as well as differences in education and socioeconomic disparities, said Donia Nour, the Edmonton-based chair of African-Canadian civic engagement. .
“This includes investing in strategies that work with black-led and black-focused community-based organizations to address COVID-19 vaccine knowledge gaps and related trust barriers,” Nour said in a statement.
Black Canadians who responded to the survey were less likely to hesitate about vaccines if they trusted health care providers and vaccine makers, could take paid time off to get vaccinated and were confident about where and how to get vaccinated.
“When we talk about frequency, we talk about ABCs,” Sekyi-Otu said. “I’m talking about access, faith, and trust.”
He said access is affected when black Canadians are more likely to work in jobs where taking paid time to vaccinate is difficult or impossible. Faith in vaccines can be eroded if you do not trust the people who provide information about them, and trust that vaccines work detrimentally when people who are already less confident in the health care system receive mixed messages about vaccine safety and efficacy.
“It is not surprising that if someone has had a bad experience with an institution, for example, criminal justice, when they are 19 years old, they may not want to have the vaccine in 2021 when they are 45 years old,” he said.
Sekyi-Oto says governments need to ensure that people can take time off work to be vaccinated and take immediate steps to provide culturally appropriate communication and education about vaccines in black communities.
“You have to build a system in which the people who lead the system look like the people who use the system,” he said. “And so we want to create a system that is culturally sensitive, and engage with the community so they can go out and get a vaccine.”
More than 2,830 Canadians have been surveyed
The survey is being released as Public Health Canada reports new data showing that COVID-19 death rates in the first eight months of the pandemic were highest in low-income communities and apparent minorities higher
The data is the agency’s latest report outlining the inequalities surrounding COVID-19 in Canada.
More than 2,830 Canadians responded to the survey, including more than 500 black Canadians. Survey organizers said the sample size was likely to reflect the demographic composition of the Canadian population.
CBC cannot accurately calculate the margin of error for online surveys. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size might carry a margin of error of +/- 2%, 19 times out of 20.
For more stories about Black Canadians’ experiences – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.