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WDG Public Health Holds Session on Vaccine Hesitancy

Ask the Expert Series: Dr. Khenti and Dr. Tenenbaum – Vaccine Hesitancy – Dufferin County Canadian Black Association Youtube Channel

Just because someone is experiencing vaccine hesitancy does not mean they are ‘anti-vax.’ This is something Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) is aware of. As such, the health unit is actively trying to alleviate the concerns of individuals experiencing this.

On May 18, 2021, the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association (DCCBA), in partnership with WDGPH, held an information session regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine hesitancy. Dr. Akwatu Khenti and Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum provided a presentation on the matter, including explanations on the different vaccines for COVID-19, covering details like the efficacy of each vaccine against the virus. Dr. Tenenbaum is the associate medical officer of health for WDGPH. Dr. Khenti is the former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Anti-Racism Directorate and senior scientist with the Canadian Association of Mental Health. Khenti is also a special advisor with the City of Toronto’s Targeted COVID Equity Action Plan. The pair finished the session by fielding questions from those who attended. 

According to the World Health Organization, vaccine hesitancy is the delay in acceptance or the refusal of vaccines despite the services’ availability. Reasons for waiting to obtain the vaccine can vary widely, ranging from just needing more information to saving it for others more vulnerable to wanting to ‘vaccine shop.’ In other instances, hesitancy derives from misinformation or distrust of the system due to past injustices. 

During the pandemic, it was identified that the BIPOC community in WDG was five times more likely to contract COVID-19 than their white counterparts. Making this even more significant is that there is a substantial issue with vaccine hesitancy in the community, partly stemming from research abuses committed against people of colour. The severe implications of combining these two factors are why the DCCBA decided to host a public session on vaccine hesitancy. That being said, vaccine hesitancy is a widespread issue among people of all backgrounds.

Several Ask the Experts sessions have been conducted by the DCCBA so far. Subjects have included digital storytelling, personal branding, in addition to politics and voter engagement. These meetings are free to attend and open to the public. More details, including registration links for future events, can be found on the DCCBA website. If one wants to watch a past Ask the Experts episode, one can view them on the DCCBA’s YouTube Channel.

The mission of the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association is to provide leadership for the continued development and enhancement of the Black community. According to the DCCBA’s website, this is to be done through civic engagement, education, programs and services and advocate for equity and wellbeing for the Black community in Dufferin County. Furthermore, it intends to be a ‘central hub for resources, tools, and programs that are unique to the needs of Dufferin County’s Black Community.’ The DCCBA was formally established in 2020 and will offer tutoring and other educational opportunities such as financial literacy and coding lessons. The organization also supplies scholarships to students, applications for which are currently welcomed. DCCBA membership is open to everyone, and businesses can register in its public business directory.

If one has yet to pre-register for a vaccine appointment, the action can be performed through the WDGPH website.

Full Disclosure: Dufferin News is a partner with the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association.

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