Still unvaccinated in Ontario? Expect a call from the government'These calls are legitimate': Outreach campaigns to reach the unvaccinated now include phone calls to anyone with a health card
Author of the article: Deborah Stokes
Publishing date: Oct 18, 2021 • 4 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Jennifer Gauthier/Bloomberg
Canada has reached a vaccination rate of 71 per cent of the population now fully vaccinated, shows the latest health data, thanks to vax vans, mobile clinics and pop-up shots in community centres, arenas and churches.
But millions of Canadians remain who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, due to barriers to access or because they are hesitant or resistant.
In Ontario, that number is nearly two million people, according to the latest population figures, and based on a vaccination rate of 83 per cent of the population fully vaccinated.
Now, the unvaccinated in the province can expect a call from the health department.
At least one regional health unit in the province has put its residents on notice. The Northwestern Health Unit, which covers a large area west of Thunder Bay to the Manitoba border put out a public statement saying the Ontario Ministry of Health calls are intended to help answer questions and ensure unvaccinated residents know how and where to get vaccinated.
“Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) wants to inform the public that these calls are legitimate and urges the public to take the opportunity to gain information about the vaccine and to make an appointment for their shot,” the Oct. 14th statement said. Just over 80 per cent of people in the region — 81.3 per cent — are fully vaccinated.
The Ontario Ministry of Health confirms the calls are part of a vaccine outreach campaigns by the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre and are targetting anyone with a health card — but without a vaccination.
“This includes a campaign that is currently ongoing to offer first doses. These calls are from live agents and are only to offer information and an opportunity to book an appointment,” a Ministry spokesperson confirmed in an email.
These calls are from live agents
ONTARIO HEALTH MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON
To reach the unvaccinated, the government is tapping into databases of contact information provided to the Ministry of Health when registering for or renewing a health card, as well as databases “containing information pertaining to vaccines already administered to persons in Ontario,” Anna Miller, a spokesperson with the ministry explained.
“The Ministry of Health has the authority under section 37(1)(c) of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 to use and link the information from these databases for planning and delivering the COVID-19 vaccination program.
“This includes contacting individuals to encourage vaccination,” Miller said.
A man arrives with two young girls for his shot at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto in May, 2021. The two girls did not get vaccinated as children are not yet approved for COVID-19 vaccines in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Other outreach programs in Ontario and elsewhere in the country have ramped up to reach the final groups of unvaccinated, targeting areas with vulnerable populations or low vaccination rates.
The number of people fully vaccinated vary widely by region. Ottawa, for example, is the first health region in Ontario to hit a rate of 90 per cent fully vaccinated rate. Nearby Cornwall has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the province, with only 69 per cent fully vaccinated. It also has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases per capita in the province, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the area’s medical officer of health, recently told the CBC.
Mobile vaccine units, vax vans and pop-up clinics have gone into vulnerable communities in Ontario and elsewhere in the country to make it easier for those facing language, technological or other barriers to getting their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Montreal, vaccine vans hit parks this summer to reach youth and families with the vaccines. British Columbia also launched a widespread Vax for B.C. outreach program in mid-summer, and is now targetting specific areas with high rates of COVID cases, such as the Fraser Valley.
MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO: AUGUST 26, 2021—A person wearing a mask arrives for vaccination at the Region Of Peel Vax Van at Mississauga’s Westwood Square during the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday August 26, 2021. [Peter J Thompson/National Post]
Other initiatives, such as the growing number of employers adopting vaccine mandates, along with vaccine passport programs in some provinces, have also helped the campaign to get more people vaccinated and end the pandemic.
One of the last remaining community centres that have yet to be conscripted in the nationwide vaccine campaign are schools, which have been used in the past to help administer vaccine shots to children. It remains to be seen if, once a COVID vaccine is approved for under 12s, schools will be used again as a site for shots.
'These calls are legitimate': Outreach campaigns to reach the unvaccinated now include phone calls to anyone with a health card