Hamilton plans COVID-19 vaccine clinics exclusive to BIPOC residents

Hamilton's medical officer of health says public health will have vaccine clinics specific to marginalized residents after trying — and failing — to get them priority access to vaccinations on the weekend.

Public health planned a clinic for this weekend, but word got out and the appointments were filled

Hamilton will set up vaccine clinics exclusively for people of colour, says the city's medical officer of health. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Hamilton's medical officer of health says the city will host COVID-19 vaccine clinics exclusively for people of colour and equity-seeking groups after trying — and failing — to get them priority access to appointments on the weekend.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson explained the plan during a general issues committee meeting on Wednesday while answering questions from Ward 1 councillor Maureen Wilson and Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann. 

Nann brought up how messages sent to Black and racialized residents to book 1,000 vaccine appointments ended up on social media and were filled by others.

"Social media is what it is ultimately ... and this is part of the challenge. There's a broad access of people being able to get in and we find often those who are equity seeking aren't able to get there and get the access they need," Richardson said.

"We are going to be working on some additional sites and I do foresee those will have exclusive access in terms of a particular community group."

She added there are already clinics in neighbourhoods with more people of colour, and those clinics are only open to those who live in the area.

Richardson acknowledged people of colour are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and said not enough of them have been vaccinated.

"We're going to keep working on this to try and get those rates up," she said.

This comes after a member of the group advising Hamilton public health says the city isn't doing enough to prioritize racialized, disabled and low-income residents in its vaccine rollout.