Investigating COVID‑19 Vaccine Outreach Strategies for Marginalized Newcomer Communities

Fabreau, Gabriel | $469,235

Alberta The University of Calgary 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic has negatively affected low-income communities in Canada. These communities have more immigrants, refugees, and temporary foreign workers (together called ‘newcomers’) who often work in frontline essential jobs and have lower COVID‑19 vaccination rates. This increases the risk for more COVID‑19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths – especially as the more infectious COVID‑19 Delta variant spreads. Research shows that newcomers face many barriers to vaccination, are more vaccine-hesitant, and have more difficulty getting COVID‑19 related information from trustworthy sources. Alberta currently has the lowest COVID‑19 vaccination rates and highest COVID‑19 infection rate in Canada, increasing the risk to unvaccinated newcomers. To improve vaccination rates among newcomers, our team members developed different outreach vaccination strategies including 1) onsite meat plant vaccine clinics for workers; and, 2) targeted community-engaged vaccination clinics (i.e., mass, pop-up and mobile bus clinics). We will build directly on our already established COVID‑19 research team and benefit from the goodwill and trust built by our community-partnered team to study how different vaccine outreach strategies for newcomers may help build vaccine trust and overcome vaccine hesitancy. We will study: 1) How COVID‑19 vaccine outreach clinics may help overcome vaccine hesitancy; and, 2) Reasons for vaccine acceptance and hesitancy among unvaccinated newcomers. Our embedded mixed-methods case study will collect and study surveys and interviews with vaccinated and unvaccinated newcomers. We will then combine our data and use them to make recommendations to improve newcomer vaccination outreach programs. With COVID‑19 vaccinations for children under 12 years expected soon, understanding the best vaccination strategies for vulnerable communities will help Canada and other countries improve vaccine delivery, protect vulnerable communities from COVID-19.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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