Pop-up vaccine clinics launch in hard-hit communities

·3 min read
Frederique, a 58-year-old woman who lives on Cedarwood Drive in one of Ottawa's COVID-19 hot spots, said on Friday she booked a vaccine appointment after finding a pamphlet slipped under her door. (Judy Trinh/CBC - image credit)
Frederique, a 58-year-old woman who lives on Cedarwood Drive in one of Ottawa's COVID-19 hot spots, said on Friday she booked a vaccine appointment after finding a pamphlet slipped under her door. (Judy Trinh/CBC - image credit)

Ottawa Public Health will begin rolling out four pop-up vaccination clinics Saturday that have been strategically placed near neighbourhoods where COVID-19 has hit the hardest.

Frederique, a 58-year-old woman who lives on Cedarwood Drive, said on Friday she booked an appointment after finding a pamphlet slipped under her door.

"I'm so happy because I'm going to be getting my COVID-19 vaccine," said Frederique, who declined to give her last name.

She's scheduled for an appointment at the Masjid ar-Rahmah, the Mosque of Mercy, on Hunt Club Road in the community of Emerald Woods. People as young as 50 years old will be able to get vaccinated there after registering for an appointment.

The City of Ottawa has not announced where the other three pop-up sites will be located, but said it's disseminating the information strategically to high-risk areas.

Those areas won't be limited to neighbourhoods within the three postal codes the province deemed hot spots: K1T, K1V and K2V.

21 high-priority neighbourhoods identified

Karim Mekki, head of OPH's supervisor of community engagement, said public health has been working with community groups to spread the word about upcoming pop-up clinics in 21 identified high-priority neighbourhoods.

"Some neighbourhoods were disproportionately impacted. Many people in these neighbourhoods face a plethora of systemic inequities," Mekki said. "They're overly represented in front-line work, precarious employment. They live in crowded housing."

Mekki said information about how to book appointments and where to go for vaccinations has been shared in different languages through WhatsApp and one-on-one phone calls.

The Masjid ar-Rahmah Mosque of Mercy in Emerald Woods will be the site of a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic launching Saturday, April 17, in Ottawa.
The Masjid ar-Rahmah Mosque of Mercy in Emerald Woods will be the site of a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic launching Saturday, April 17, in Ottawa.(Judy Trinh/CBC)

OPH has also created a special help line, the Ottawa immigrant COVID response line, that residents can call to book transportation to get to vaccination sites.

Heron Gate, where Frederique lives, has the highest rate of infections in the city, something she was aware of in booking the appointment.

"I want to be protected from the virus. They say there's a lot of it here," said Frederique, who is training to be a personal support worker.

'People feel comfortable here'

Last week, OPH — in partnership with community workers — went door-to-door in the apartments and condominiums in the area to hand out flyers and register residents for vaccinations. Mekki said that face-to-face model could also be used to promote future pop-up clinics.

Jalil Marhnouh, president of the Assunnah Muslims Association, said the mosque has been a hub of reliable information for the community of Emerald Woods and for Muslims across the city. Prior to being chosen as a vaccination clinic, it was a COVID-19 testing site.

"As a pop-up site it's important that people feel comfortable here. People will come to the place if they feel comfortable," says Marhnouh.

"They can walk here. Many people live here in condominiums and highrises and can walk here. They can come here and we'll help them register."