Keeping Latin-Canadians Healthy and Informed: Challenges and Successes of a Nationwide Vaccination Campaign

Author: Luisa Cunha

In the past seven months, Latincouver has carried out the project, Keeping Latin-Canadians Healthy and Informed, in close collaboration with healthcare partners, community organizations, and the general public. This initiative was designed to advance equitable access to vaccination for Latin Americans, Spanish and Portuguese speakers, promoting evidence-based vaccine information specifically for winter vaccines: COVID-19, Influenza, respiratory illnesses and other infectious diseases. Our efforts have fostered trust in vaccines, and increased knowledge and vaccination access among our diverse audience. We have successfully reached audiences from the West to the East of Canada, thanks to partnerships established with organizations such as the Hispanic Development Council (Toronto), Between Two Worlds (Ottawa), and SUCCESS (Vancouver). In this article, I will discuss the main challenges and successes of this project and highlight the lessons learned from our community.

Our vaccination campaign has connected with our diverse audience and had a substantial positive impact. Project activities were designed to reach communities in a variety of environments, including in-person festivals and events, online workshops, podcasts, radio transmissions, and printed materials. Latincouver has developed materials using culturally sensitive language and engaged Latinx speakers to enable a better cultural understanding of the community. This comprehensive approach allowed Latincouver to connect and engage individuals from different ages, backgrounds, and interests. We have also tailored activities to the specific needs of Latinx seniors and parents, ensuring that the information was relevant to all audiences and addressed their unique concerns. Our aim was to reach diverse communities with relevant messages in their language of choice, including Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French. We connected with over 420 individuals at in-person or online events, distributed about 500 printed materials, and reached more than 27,000 virtually through articles, social media posts, and podcasts.

Robust evaluation tools guided the project in measuring the impact of our activities, including surveys, questionnaires, and interviews. After every event or activity, we rolled out surveys to attendees to better understand our impact and improve services, in which participants were asked multiple-choice and open-ended questions. There were 181 responses in total; 70% of respondents were between 18 and 54 years old, 64% identified as female and 35% as male Additionally, 78% of respondents identified as Hispanic or Latinx, and 72% of respondents spoke either Spanish or English and Spanish at home.

The survey results show that the activities have helped increase the awareness of vaccines among the target audience, as respondents have stated that these activities have improved their knowledge of vaccines. About 88% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the activity they participated in helped to answer questions or concerns about vaccines, learn or confirm that vaccines are safe, and learn that vaccines are effective. The chart below details the responses to each question.

Additionally, the survey results point out that activities may have helped participants develop vaccine-prone behaviours, as our audience responded positively when asked if the activity encouraged them to get vaccinated. About 81% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the activity they participated in helped them to want to get the flu shot, and 86% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the activity they participated in helped them want to be updated on all vaccines. More details can be found in the following chart.

By utilizing the evaluation tools in this project, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of the community’s thoughts and perspectives. Participants were asked to provide feedback on what they enjoyed most and least about the activity and suggest ways in which Latincouver could further encourage immunization. Participants found project activities to be informative and engaging. They appreciated the use of simple and easy-to-understand language, the knowledgeable facilitators and friendly staff, and the provision of information in their preferred language. Suggestions for improvement were related to the timing and location of the activities to make them more convenient, providing more specific details on where to get vaccines and how temporary residents could get vaccinated. Others wanted to hear more about vaccines’ side effects, such as components’ allergies. Finally, some participants mentioned they would appreciate it if the program would continue and be expanded.

This project has also adopted a Sex Gender-Based Analysis Plus, which acknowledges that people of different genders, ages, and ethnicities may have various perspectives on immunization. We observed significant differences in survey responses according to age and gender. When asked if the activity they attended helped them learn that vaccines were effective, 56% of those who identified as female strongly agreed with the statement, and for those who identified as male, 59% strongly agreed. When asked if the project activity helped them to want to stay updated on all their vaccines, 45% of those between 18-54 years old strongly agreed to this statement, while for those over 55 years old, 65% strongly agreed. These results showcase that males and persons over 55 years old tended to view project activities more positively. Therefore, immunization campaigns may benefit from developing initiatives tailored to people of different ages and genders to address their immunization needs effectively.

Project outcomes suggest Latincouver has made advances in increasing vaccination awareness and promoting vaccine-prone behaviours in our community. As a result, these changes may contribute to a greater vaccine uptake among our audience. By leveraging robust evaluation tools, our team has gained a deeper understanding of the community’s perspectives and collaborated with partners to keep communities safe and healthy nationwide. Additionally, we have identified areas for improvement, such as promoting more detailed and relevant information to the community on how and where to get vaccinated, addressing potential vaccine side effects, and tailoring activities for persons of different ages and genders. The feedback received has been invaluable, and it will help us to continue improving and expanding efforts to promote immunization in the community.

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