Stinson association members translate COVID-19 vaccine info for their neighbours

The Stinson Community Association knows the constantly evolving COVID-19 vaccination criteria can be confusing, so it's translated and posted it for neighbours.

'If you've been lucky enough to get your vaccine, now you can pay it forward'

The Stinson Community Association has put up posters offering information in different languages on how to book a COVID-19 vaccine. (Stinson_Community/Twitter)

Members of the Stinson Community Association know the constantly evolving COVID-19 vaccination criteria can be confusing, so they've started putting posters at bus stops — in multiple languages.

The posters currently share details in English and French of English and Tagalog, the language of the Philippines.

"We've been trying to help get the word out there on how people can book their vaccines," said association co-chair Margaret Bennett, who provided the French translation. "Obviously the process is very confusing."

Statistics Canada data shows those three languages are the most commonly spoken in that part of the city. But Bennett said the association plans to review the statistics to see if it should add others.

This is actually the second round of signs the association has shared with vaccination information. The first were in the lobbies of apartment buildings, and explained with simple charts who could get a shot. Then the city designated L8N, Stinson's postal code, a hot spot.

Now anyone 18 and older can sign up. However, the postal code still isn't part of the province's online booking portal, meaning people must make appointments by phone.

That system was overwhelmed with callers last week, forcing people to try for hours and causing an automatic hang up.

Barriers make booking difficult

The lack of online booking makes it more "confusing and complicated" for Stinson residents, said Bennett.

Association members have noticed many in the community use pay-as-you-go cell phones.

"Having to call for four hours to book your vaccine uses up all your cellphone minutes," she said.

"Unfortunately there's a lot of barriers to that in our community, whether it's language barriers, income barriers, access barriers."

The members hope the posters will help. They're also heading out into the neighbourhood to answer questions and pre-register people who want the shot.

Association volunteers, along with a pair of translators and staff from the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), visited a building complex on Sunday where a large number of Filipinos live, said Bennett.

"We were able to get seven people registered in an hour yesterday through HCCI," she said.

'Pay it forward'

Elected officials celebrated the sign effort over the weekend, with Hamilton Centre MP Matthew Green tweeting thanks to those involved.

"It's vital we support and encouragement everyone in our community to get their vaccine," he said.

Coun. Nrinder Nann (Ward 3) also shared her support.

"Thank you to each community organizer and neighbour who made this happen," she tweeted. "If folks are interested in rolling this out in other areas, let's connect and make it happen!"

The association also regularly distributes newsletters about COVID-19, including answering questions about vaccine hesitancy.

Bennett said they plan to go out into the community again, and hope to team up with a doctor or someone from public health.

The association is operating on a simple principle, said Bennett.

"If you've been lucky enough to get your vaccine, now you can pay it forward by helping a neighbour to get their vaccine."