It took Daniel Wilson a long time and thought to get comfortable with the idea of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Standing in front of the Victoria Park subway station, the East Toronto resident shared his thoughts with Global News.
“I definitely want to travel and if you can’t go anywhere and you can’t do anything without being vaccinated, then it’s something that I’m taking very much into consideration,” he explained.
Taylor-Massey, which is located on the border of East York and Scarborough, currently has the lowest vaccination rate in Toronto, according to data from the city.
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The figures, which are updated twice a week, show that 64% of eligible residents there have been fully immunized.
“I think it’s the right thing to do, however, I feel like being pressured to do something is something else. And I think a lot of people in this community feel like it’s a pressure issue, ”Wilson said.
Citywide, the vaccination rate is around 84 percent.
Other parts of Toronto with lower vaccination rates include Kingsview Villiage – The Westway with 69%, Elms – Old Rexdale, Etobicoke West Mall with and Englemount – Lawrence with 70% respectively.
Nadjib Alamyar is the Newcomer Wellness Manager at WoodGreen Community Services, who has been working closely with health partners in the area.
“For us, the focus has been to really connect with the community and earn their trust,” he told Global News.
“In the last three months, we have seen an absorption of 17 percent in the first dose and 25 percent in the second dose.”
Earlier this year, teams were dispatched to go door-to-door to speak to residents. So far, he said they have knocked on more than 6,000 doors.
They have teams known as “ambassadors,” who go to apartment building lobbies twice a week. They distribute masks, disinfectants, disinfectant wipes and offer information.
Ambassadors are recruited from buildings in the area and speak at least a dozen languages, Alamyar revealed.
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He added that trust, accessibility and the ability to respond to local needs have been crucial.
“Sometimes it can be that language barriers prevent them from having the correct information,” he said.
“There can be problems in terms of their jobs, where they can’t take time off between jobs. Other reasons may be that the vaccines are probably not available for them to get in the right places. “
Global News reached out to District 9, Beaches-East York Councilor Brad Bradford. He said that while the data shows that there is still a long way to go, efforts are underway to address vaccination rates.
He said it is a collaborative effort between the City, public health and community partners.
“We started with massive clinics. That was the focus of the city in the beginning. And now, we are in a much more granular and specific approach, ”continued Bradford.
Areas of the city with the highest vaccination rates include Kennedy Park and Centennial Scarborough with 88% respectively, and York University Heights with 87%.
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Global News asked Toronto’s Associate Medical Health Officer about the low vaccination rates in some neighborhoods and the reasons behind the apparent reluctance.
Dr. Vinita Dubey pointed to hesitation, rather than a firm refusal to receive the vaccine.
“Some still choose to wait because they want to see how it goes,” he told Global News.
Dubey also said that while many of the neighborhoods that have lower vaccination rates have been hit the hardest by COVID-19, it is not because the virus is more contagious there.
There are a myriad of problems that contribute to vaccination rates.
“It’s really about the social determinants of health, being a newcomer, being from a racialized community, living on a low income,” he said.
“Those are all reasons that contribute to why COVID rates are higher and why vaccination rates may be lower. So part of it, in the long run, will be about addressing those bigger systemic issues. “
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