Today, Mayor John Tory announced the extension of the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 vaccine engagement program from January 1 to July 1, 2022, ensuring continued opportunities to increase vaccine equity and access for all residents, including those eligible for third doses and children age five to 11 years old.
The $6 million in additional funding to support the extension is from the Government of Ontario and will provide continued, critical outreach to equity-deserving groups, supporting efforts to:
Over the course of the pandemic, equity-deserving populations have experienced higher rates of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization as well as deaths, grief and personal loss, including job loss, financial insecurity and higher levels of emotional trauma and mental health challenges.
To meet the great need for vaccination information and support, the number of community ambassadors has grown to 400 from the original plan for 280. Between July and September, ambassadors have engaged more than 567,000 people and have spent more than 25,000 hours conducting outreach. Under the guidance of community agencies, vaccine engagement teams have engaged more than 800,000 equity-deserving community members since April, when a funding of $5.5 million in COVID-19 Vaccine Engagement Teams Grants was announced to cover programming up to December 2021. Read the April 2021 Vaccine Engagement Teams Grants news release.
Initial evaluation findings have identified vaccine engagement teams as an effective strategy for increasing vaccine confidence, access, uptake and equity in Toronto. They have become a visible and important source of support to vulnerable residents, working in tandem with Team Toronto to address barriers to accessing the vaccine and clinic information, language barriers, transportation to clinics, fear and disinformation.
Other vaccine engagement partners and initiatives within the City’s community mobilization and engagement program include:
“Our extraordinary vaccine engagement teams got to work as soon as they were established in the spring, after months of City planning on the most strategic and appropriate way to help residents overcome vaccine barriers and experience easy access to the vaccine. They worked steadily for months and still have much work to do in support of our children aged 5 to 11, those eligible for booster shots and other vulnerable residents. This extension will allow for uninterrupted and invaluable support to continue. My thanks to the Province for the vital funding and to our vaccine engagement teams, Team Toronto and all the community groups and residents who have stepped up to get vaccinated and continue to help others do the same.”
– Mayor John Tory
“This is very positive news from the Province to extend our City’s vaccine engagement teams. These individuals have been critical in our City’s vaccination campaign towards helping to increase vaccine equity and addressing barriers to make sure all residents have equal opportunities to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. I look forward to our continued work in the coming months with the vaccine engagement teams, Team Toronto and all the community groups to ensure every resident has the best protection against COVID-19 and we can end this pandemic.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health
“Our vaccine engagement teams have been on-the-ground increasing vaccine confidence and access by engaging with over 800,000 community members since April 2021. With vaccination underway for five- to 11-year-olds, and work continuing to reach our goal of 90 per cent of Torontonians 12 and older fully vaccinated, this critical initiative must continue in order to break down barriers and increase access for vulnerable populations. Thank you to all of our vaccine engagement teams and community ambassadors that have helped to get us this far. Now, let’s keep moving ahead together.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Board of Health
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.