Black Scientists’ Task Force concerned about the vaccine mandate Ottawa Demonstration

Black Covid Task Force

The Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity (BSTF) is concerned that the uptake in COVID-19 vaccination in Black communities may be undermined by the on-going demonstrations in Ottawa. This could increase already disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on a community at high risk.

The BSTF has been working hard to ensure that Black populations are given the balanced evidence they need to make decisions about how best to protect themselves and their communities.  We are concerned that the growing media coverage, social media misinformation and financial funds accumulating for the causes linked to the anti-vaccination messaging may increase vaccination concerns and hesitancy in Black communities.

The Black community has specific health and systemic race issues that could get lost while the focus is switched to these demonstrators.  Some include:

  • Higher risk of COVID-19 because of social factors and the fact they are more likely to work in essential jobs including health and social care
  • Higher rates of health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension) linked to social factors and poorer access to effective medical care and social supports which makes them more at risk of severe COVID-19 illness
  • Higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 across all age groups.
  • Ongoing experiences of racial discrimination and historical neglect of Black health and wellbeing which increases mistrust of health and public health
Getting the jab

While the risk of COVID-19 and the impacts of COVID-19 have been high in Black populations, the rate of vaccination within Black communities has been consistently lower than the general population. Vaccination rates for children and adults are among the lowest in Ontario postal code areas with high Black and racialized populations.  And, though the recent vaccination roll out is leading to significant general increases in booster dose coverage and the percentage of children aged 5 to 11 who have received their first dose, areas that are home to more Black and racialized people have been left behind. They are more likely to have the lowest booster and child vaccination rates.

The BSTF continues to try to build trust between Black communities and Public Health with excellent and innovative Black community initiatives that have increased the numbers of people who are immunized.  Without this action the disparities would be larger than they are.  We encourage community members to make the distinction between science and quasi-science by clear analysis of all sources.

Our website is a portal with scientifically backed information, culturally appropriate FAQ’s and offers a safe space for users to reach out to trusted medical professionals to answer their questions about vaccination.