Black Canadians have new, safe space to talk about COVID-19 vaccines with doctors from their community

Scarborough Health Network’s popular VaxFacts service partners with the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario to create dedicated stream for Black communities

As Canadians come together for Black History Month to promote equity and representation, Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is proud to be collaborating with the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario (BPAO) to launch a dedicated offering for Black communities through its virtual VaxFacts service.  

“It is important to acknowledge the history and current reality of systemic racism in health care, as well as the heavy burden of COVID-19 on our Black community,” said Michele James, Vice President, People and Transformation, SHN.   

“We must build trust and find more innovative ways to extend outreach and care in order to address disparities in COVID-19 disease and increase vaccine confidence.” 

 Since SHN’s VaxFacts service launched last spring, people from across Canada have booked a one-on-one phone appointment with an experienced physician to make an informed decision regarding vaccination. Approximately 80 per cent of VaxFacts clients scheduled their COVID-19 vaccine appointment by the end of their session.

 With leadership from Dr. Trudy McFarlane, a member of the BPAO, the new VaxFacts stream provides members of Black communities in Scarborough and across Canada with access to speak with Black physicians and have richer, culturally informed conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a judgment-free space to ask questions and express concerns with a trusted doctor who is also from the Black community. 

Dr. McFarlane is a family physician and expert in community medicine. She is passionate about advocacy, mentorship, and representation in leadership amongst the Black community.  

“As physicians from the Black community, we understand why vaccine hesitancy exists within our communities,” said Dr. McFarlane.  

“It is so important that members from Black communities are able to address their concerns in a culturally competent and safe space, with physicians they can trust. I am thrilled that we are able to offer access to this service to Black communities throughout Canada. 

With this new stream, members of Black communities can go online to shn.ca/vaxfacts to request a phone consultation with a Black physician. The VaxFacts team will then follow up to schedule an appointment within a week.  

“My colleague Dr. Sekyi-Oto has referred to the ABCs of vaccine hesitancy: access, belief and confidence; I believe this service will be able to address all three effectively,” added Dr. McFarlane.  

The first of its kind in Canada, SHN’s VaxFacts service was created to provide an easy access service for individuals who have not gotten the vaccine, or those who are unsure about second doses, boosters, mixing vaccines, or paediatric doses for kids, to have their questions answered in a safe and judgement-free way. The service gives all community members the opportunity to set up a one-on-one phone call with an experienced physician, ask their questions, and make an informed decision.  

SHN’s VaxFacts service supports phone calls in more than 200 languages, is free to use, and only takes seconds to book a consultation at shn.ca/vaxfacts.