“Champions for immunization against COVID-19” African Nova Scotian communities and partners work together to create positive vaccine experience

Shauna Crawley-Jordan is proud of the team working together to host vaccine clinics for members of African Nova Scotian communities. 

“I worked these last few days with an absolutely remarkable group of people, giving kudos to both Public Health and the volunteers on this project,” said Crawley-Jordan.

These clinics, led by community leaders and partners like the Health Association of African Canadians, the Association of Black Social Workers and African Nova Scotian Affairs with support from Public Health and Department of Health and Wellness, recognize the disproportionate risk of adverse COVID-19 outcomes on communities of African descent. They also acknowledge the impact of historic systemic racism on Black communities, contributing to mistrust of the health system. 

The first vaccine clinic for African Nova Scotian communities was held in Hammonds Plains on April 8, with 257 people vaccinated. On April 13 and 14, clinics were held at New Beginnings Ministries in Cherrybrook, vaccinating 406 people over two days.

“All of us that are working these vaccination clinics are champions for immunization against the COVID-19 virus,” said Crawley-Jordan. “It is truly important work that is being done by one and all.”

Community members coming to get their vaccine at the clinic saw many providers and volunteers of African descent, a critical element of the clinic’s success. 

“It is absolutely vital that our African Nova Scotian communities see people that look like them when they come out,” said Crawley-Jordan.

Hosting the clinic in the church, a familiar, trusted and valued part of the community, was also a critical element of creating a comfortable, safe experience. 

Crawley-Jordan notes that quite a few clients came searching for more information before making their final decision to be vaccinated at the Cherrybrook clinic. Many community members, unsure about coming at first, decided to get the vaccine after positive reports from friends and family who had been to the clinic.

“Our team came out in full force: greeting, registering, immunizing and recovering. We are champions for immunization against the COVID-19 virus, advocating for the communities that we serve, in an effort to support African Nova Scotians in making informed consent, dispelling misinformation and reestablishing trust in the health care system.”

Crystal Crawley was one of vaccine recipients at the Cherrybrook clinic. 

“I had a really great experience; I was pleasantly surprised,” said Crawley. “It just went so smoothly.”

She describes arriving 30 minutes early and expecting to have to wait outside. Instead, she was welcomed at the door, asked the standard COVID-19 screening questions, registered and seated with a nurse immediately. 

“Before I even got to go to the waiting area to sit down for 15 minutes, my phone dinged and it was my email saying thank you for getting the vaccine!”

Reflecting on the experience the day after the vaccine, Crawley said, “I’m glad I got it. I’m looking forward to coming back for my second one!”

Planning is underway for additional clinics in African Nova Scotian communities.