It is no secret the COVID-19 vaccine registration system in Ontario is a complicated one. A person wanting to get the vaccine can go through the complicated government page and/or they can call every pharmacy possible and get placed on a waitlist to register. People can be on as many as 10 (or more!) waitlists at once before getting an appointment.
Imagine you are a new Canadian with limited English, or someone who does not have internet access, or a person with little computer literacy. This process suddenly becomes impossible.
For these reasons, we knew we had to do something to support the vaccine rollout.
From mid-June to mid-July, Ottawa Food Bank employees and volunteers have set up shop, armed with laptops and cellphones, outside of Care Centre Ottawa, an emergency food bank, helping interested people register for their vaccine. In the first day alone, one-third of food bank visitors accepted the offer of help and booked an appointment!
“We’re finding that people are unvaccinated not because of hesitancy, but because the system is complicated and intimidating,” says Madison Watson, an Ottawa Food Bank employee.
This task would have been much more difficult if not for the incredible support of our partners. Thank you to Care Centre Ottawa for giving us the time and space to speak with food bank visitors and offer them this support.
Thank you also the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) for providing much needed information and PPE. OPH has helped us immensely throughout the pandemic, and we are very grateful.
Finally, thank you to the team at Refugee 613 for developing and providing us with important information in a variety of languages to ensure all have the resources they need to feel safe throughout the vaccine process. The information provided by Refugee 613 is publicly accessible and can be found through the button below.
Since this Registration Drive has been a success, we are planning and hoping to continue these efforts at another location soon. Stay tuned!