BPAO’s Peel Region BHVI Pop Up

During weekends this summer, municipal and community organizations worked together to coordinate pop-up vaccination clinics for communities of colour across Peel.

“Who better to take care of our community than us,” said Dr. Trudy McFarlane, Family Physician and co-lead for the Peel pop up clinics with BHVI.

Events like these begin to build a bridge across the sea of doubt and distrust between healthcare systems and Black communities.

“I really liked that we were able to do this airport model, because I think we can sit down and have those conversations and address the concerns, questions, and fears… I find by the end of that they feel quite comfortable,” she said.

As Peel seeks to take measures to stop the spread that has disproportionately impacted communities of colour, community organizations are doing the slow work of informing and educating, one household at a time.

“There’s been a lot of concerns…especially with trust,” said Karen Eseosa-Omoregie, volunteer at the pop-up clinic, and Community Health Liaison with Roots Community Services in Peel.

“One of the concerns is about liability. There is none…the government is enforcing this vaccine, but they’re also unwilling to take any responsibility for if anything goes wrong. Why aren’t the companies [who are designing the vaccination] also liable in the event of any serious effects?”

These kinds of questions and concerns in the community trigger the deep distrust of westernized health care institutions that have been there for generations.

Jefferey Brown, supervisor with Peel region public health for mobile clinics, has been an advanced care paramedic in Peel for 15 years. He quickly switched gears to respond and meet the demands of the pandemic on the Public Health team.

“We’re in the community… we’re really trying to hit the groups at the highest risk, and bring the vaccine to them,” he said.

He has been a first responder since the beginning of the crises in 2020, and has seen a lot of people lose their lives and loved ones.

“Every person who ends up in the hospital or passes away, there’s a family behind that…there’s potentially over a decade’s worth or generations worth of impact for every family that’s effected,” he said.
He advises that anyone with any doubts connect with their family and trusted allies to come an informed decision about what to do.

“Part of the problem, of course, is that the messaging from public health events from the government, both provincial and, and federal, have been mixed,” said Dr. Atoe, Co-lead for the Peel pop up clinics with BHVI.

“We try to bring all those messages together to help people make an informed decision.”

As the season changes from summer to autumn, those who have decided to remain unvaccinated hold the most resistance. The hard work of the BHVI team will be bringing sufficient information and care, to ensure more people of colour feel as safe and comfortable as possible to make the best choice for themselves and their communities.

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