Hamilton opens vaccines to racialized residents over 18 in hot spots — but clinic books up in matter of hours

·3 min read

Hamilton opened vaccine appointments on Friday to all Black and racialized adults living in any of the city’s five hot spot postal codes.

And they filled up as quickly as expected.

The city announced a pop-up clinic to specifically inoculate Black and other racialized residents age 18 and older.

Late Friday, the city announced the clinics were already full.

In a release Friday afternoon, public health said eligible residents could book appointments at Restoration House at 54 Vine St. in Hamilton. The clinic will run from April 26 to 30 at 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.

Individuals must reside in the L9C, L8W, L8L, L8N and L9K postal codes. Residents should bring proof of address to the appointment.

Racialized individuals make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in Hamilton, according to public health data.

Almost half of the city’s COVID-19 cases — 47 per cent — are in individuals who self-identify as racialized. Meanwhile, only 19 per cent of Hamilton’s population is racialized.

The city plans to offer ongoing clinics to this vulnerable group.

Public health added that Black and racialized individuals can also call the city’s hotline for an appointment at another clinic if one becomes available.

The city plans to collaborate with community groups and leaders to improve access to clinics. Hamilton will also launch a “community ambassadors” program “to build trust and confidence” in the COVID-19 vaccination.

Earlier this week, the city was caught quietly informing undisclosed groups about an upcoming clinic before releasing information to media and the public.

On Monday evening, Hamilton public health sent a preinvitation email to select “community partners” about a mass clinic for individuals age 40 and older to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But news leaked onto social media and before noon Tuesday all 1,000 appointments were full. Public health maintains that the clinic was meant for “at-risk” groups. However, the preinvitation email, viewed by The Spectator, had no mention of who it was for.

Ameil Joseph, an associate professor at McMaster University who advocated for racialized individuals to be prioritized for the shots, considered Monday’s email a missed chance for racialized individuals. However, on Friday, he was “confident” appointments would get to those it’s meant for.

Joseph, who’s part of a network that advises the city on vaccine equity, says racialized individuals should be prioritized in light of systemic conditions — like multi-generational households and the number of essential workers in this group — which lead to worse health outcomes.

“That renders us more vulnerable to COVID-19,” he said.

Joseph added there were discussions this week to introduce a new phone line through a community group for racialized residents to book appointments.

The professor in McMaster’s faculty of social studies said he’s “generally dissatisfied” with the vaccine rollout. While all levels of government have listed Black and racialized groups as a priority group, he said there’s been little action.

“We know in the data that these groups are disproportionately affected,” he said. “We need to open up this booking system.”

Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator