Understanding and evaluating the role of partnerships with Canadian minority faith-based communities in improving vaccine confidence in communities and vaccination program implementers
COVID‑19 is part of a pattern of increasingly frequent epidemics that have coincided with several pre-existing crises, including rising racial, social and health inequities. The focus on the development and deployment of COVID‑19 vaccines has drawn attention away from the extent to which the lack of confidence in vaccines remains a persistent challenge, particularly among Indigenous, Black and other racialized groups in Canada and in other countries. The introduction of new vaccines is not necessarily followed by trust in (i) the effectiveness and safety of vaccines; (ii) the system that delivers them, including the reliability and competence of the health services and health professionals and (iii) the motivations of policy-makers who decide on the needed vaccines. Several historical and contemporary dimensions interplay to influence vaccine hesitancy. In this project, we seek to understand the role religion and collaborations with faith-based organizations play in increasing vaccine uptake. Currently, public health interventions to address vaccine confidence have relied on faith-based leaders as trusted messengers or used houses of worship as vaccine clinics. We will identify and evaluate community-centered interventions that aim to improve vaccine confidence among Black, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or newcomer communities particularly in the region of Peel (Ontario). Our project will help contribute knowledge about what interventions work, for whom, under what contextual circumstances, and whether these interventions are scalable in equitable ways. We will co-implement evaluations of promising community-based interventions while applying a model to build implementation research capacity among vaccine program managers.