August 11th

I’m happy to be joined today by Board of Health Chair Egli, Ottawa Public Health colleagues and our partners at the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre and the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study (ONS).

Today we are releasing information that outlines COVID-19 vaccination coverage by neighbourhood in Ottawa. An interactive mapping tool provides a snapshot in time of cumulative percent of individuals aged 12 and over who received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and those who are fully vaccinated, based on geography established by the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study. This is the same neighbourhood approach we used to provide information about people testing positive for COVID-19, testing and per cent positivity rates by neighbourhoods in Ottawa. The vaccination data by neighbourhood will be updated every four weeks.

Ottawa Public Health, the City and health care and community partners use this data to address barriers and inequities in COVID-19 vaccination through responses focused on specific neighbourhoods and populations. Some of this work is accomplished through mobile clinics and Public Health Neighbourhood Vaccine Hubs.

This data, which is now available on the ONS website, has shown us that vaccination coverage is lower in less advantaged neighbourhoods than more advantaged neighbourhoods, which also have some of the largest Black and racialized populations. As we have seen in past reports, the disparity between less and more advantaged neighbourhoods has persisted throughout the pandemic, despite significant efforts by many partners to reorient services to meet the greatest needs.

I want to be very clear about the neighbourhoods where there is lower vaccine uptake: it is not necessarily that people are vaccine hesitant, rather, there are also systemic barriers that prevent access to vaccine information and opportunities for vaccination. For example, residents of these neighbourhoods are more likely to work in jobs where taking paid leave to be vaccinated is difficult or impossible. Other barriers include language, transportation, lack of computer and internet access, need for childcare, or lack of trust in the government agencies, and in the health care system, given previous negative experiences and systemic racism. Some may not have a primary health care provider with whom they can discuss vaccine questions and the factors influencing immunization uptake go beyond just the operation of the healthcare system. Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa continue to work closely with healthcare and community partners like the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership and community health centres across the city to address barriers to vaccination. We are seeing the coverage rates in disadvantaged communities grow as more options are added.

All health system providers have a role in promoting vaccination to their patients and clients proactively and as opportunities arise. Employers in Ottawa can play a significant role by providing time off for employees to get questions answered, to get vaccinated and if they are feeling unwell after getting vaccinated. Additionally, employers can request a mobile clinic come to the workplace. Visit our website for details.

While all communities now have the majority of their eligible populations immunized, we want every single community within Ottawa to be protected against COVID-19 as much as possible, and we are heading towards 90 per cent coverage across our city. We know that a high level of vaccination protection is part of our path to getting safely back to the people and activities that we love, and to protect against more transmissible variants like Delta.

Vaccines save lives. Vaccines ARE saving lives.

And lastly, in addition to ensuring we are fully vaccinated as soon as possible, there are other actions we can all take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including wearing a mask in closed spaces and crowds, maintaining physical distance from others and staying home when sick except to get tested.

Visit our website for more information, and if you still have questions, you can reach out to one of our OPH nurses over the phone at 613-580-6744.

Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch.

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