Door-to-door vaccines offered to Ottawa's most vulnerable

A new program in Ottawa is making the COVID-19 vaccine as accessible as possible to some of the city's most vulnerable, by having a team of health workers offer them door-to-door in apartment complexes.

Vaccinations happening in at least 7 apartment buildings in the city

A health-care worker preps to give Joey Callaghan a dose of the Moderna vaccine, right outside his apartment door. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

As a health-care worker counts down from three, Joey Callaghan braces himself for his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — not at a clinic or hospital of any kind, but right outside the door to his own apartment.

Callaghan was able to get his first dose Friday through a new program from Ottawa Health Team's primary care partners table. The team makes vaccination as accessible as possible to some of the city's most vulnerable, by offering them door-to-door in apartment complexes.

"We have identified buildings that have extra barriers to access the vaccine and in areas that are seen rising numbers of COVID," said Raquel De Queiroz, a registered nurse and co-lead of the program.

Not having access to the internet or a vehicle and not speaking English could be some factors making it more challenging for some to get vaccinated, she said.

Registered nurse and program co-lead Raquel De Queiroz says the program is meant to remove as many barriers as possible for those who might otherwise have difficulties getting the vaccine. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

The program began in May and uses a strategy known as the airplane model, based off a practice in Toronto. Health-care workers load up carts with doses of the vaccine and administer them door-to-door to those who want one.

"The best thing was just to be able to engage clients one-on-one and be able to have a health professional right there at their door to explain questions, to give them information and be ready to answer," De Queiroz said.

Program could expand

Callaghan, who doesn't have a car, said he was "elated" to get the vaccine right where he lives in the city's east end.

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"Just getting the shot is going to make me feel better," he said.

WATCH | One of the program's stops:

Door-to-door vaccinations begin in some Ottawa communities

3 years ago
Duration 1:43
Nurse Raquel De Queiroz says public health teams have started going door-to-door in some Ottawa apartment buildings, offering the vaccine to residents who would otherwise struggle to get a shot. Resident Blaine Scott says the convenience matters, since he doesn’t have an easy way to travel to a vaccine clinic.

"This is great, you know, them coming to the building," said Blaine Scott who also lives in an apartment in the east end and was recently able to get his first dose through the program.

"I was just going to put it off. I was just not going to get the shot at all."

Apartment resident Blaine Scott says if it weren't for the program, it's likely he wouldn't have gotten vaccinated at all. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

De Queiroz said the plan is to vaccinate residents in at least seven apartment buildings in the city but that the team will expand the program even further as long as resources allow. She said the program could also be helpful in other areas of the country.

"As many barriers as we can break down for people you know, I don't see why not."


Nicole Williams is a journalist for CBC News based in Ottawa. She has also worked in P.E.I. and Toronto. She is part of the team that won a 2021 Canadian Association of Journalists national award for investigative journalism. Write in confidence to

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