Halifax DJ helps promote vaccinations for Nova Scotians with intellectual disabilities

·3 min read
This image shows Simon McFadyen, who is part of a social media campaign organized by Inclusion Nova Scotia to empower Nova Scotians with intellectual disabilities to get vaccinated (Simon McFadyen - image credit)
This image shows Simon McFadyen, who is part of a social media campaign organized by Inclusion Nova Scotia to empower Nova Scotians with intellectual disabilities to get vaccinated (Simon McFadyen - image credit)

Simon McFadyen's fear of needles didn't stop him from rolling up his sleeve recently for his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Halifax DJ even did it on camera to show others how easy it can be.

"I didn't feel anything and it was very easy and I didn't feel sick after. I felt fine," McFadyen told CBC Radio's Information Morning this week.

McFadyen, known to his fans as DJ Ace, lives with an intellectual disability and is part of a social media campaign organized by Inclusion Nova Scotia to empower Nova Scotians with intellectual disabilities to get vaccinated.

The non-profit is one of dozens of organizations from across the country to receive money from the Public Health Agency of Canada for similar campaigns.

"We've heard from our community, our citizens living with intellectual disabilities, that yes they are hesitant so we know that by using their voice to talk to their friends and their family members that we can increase some numbers," said Lesley Dunn, communication and resource development advisor for Inclusion NS.

Video, photo submissions welcome

The organization is collecting and sharing photos and videos of people getting their shot. They hope it helps demystify the vaccination process and encourages Nova Scotians with intellectual disabilities to ask questions about it.

Their goal is to crowdsource 50 videos and photos to share online.

Wading through the mountain of text-based information about vaccines can be challenging for many people, said Dunn, and it's why the group has developed visual resources about vaccines on its website.

There's also information for family and friends to support their loved ones. The recommendations include arranging the vaccine appointment in a comfortable or familiar place and allowing the individual to choose who their support person is.

"Sometimes individuals living with intellectual disabilities take a little longer to process information, and it's really important that we are patient in how we share that information with them," Dunn said.

Even as COVID-19 cases drop and vaccination rates climb, Dunn said it's still important to get the message out there.

"I think the push is still on as [Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health] says, you know, keep that message out there. We don't want to give up on sharing the message that vaccines are important," she said.

Lesley Dunn
Lesley Dunn

McFadyen's message is simple: get the shot.

He said he was nervous when he showed up to his appointment and he asked the nurse to use a new needle. But when it was time for the needle to go into his arm, he didn't even realize it had happened.

"The nurse was very good and she was very good at what she was doing," he said.

Now, he's looking forward to getting his second dose.

"I'm hoping once I'm fully vaccinated, I'm hoping I can start doing a lot more gigs for people with disabilities and I'm also hoping to be downtown at some of the nightclubs," he said.

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