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Toronto to launch multilingual campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19
April 6, 2021

The City of Toronto is launching a multilingual public education campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when it’s their turn.

The multilingual initiative, which begins Monday, is part of a campaign that aims to reduce vaccine hesitancy among Black, Indigenous and senior populations, as well as health-care workers and primary caregivers.

Along with the English advertisements that have been in place since mid-March, the campaign will feature advertisements translated to Bengali, Cantonese, Farsi, French, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu, the City said in a news release Saturday.

It will direct multilingual audiences to resources that explain how vaccines work and “vaccine safety,” a city spokesperson told the Star in an email.

Additionally, it will encourage eligible residents to book appointments online or by phone through the provincial vaccine information line at 1-888-999-6488 (TTY 1-866-797-0007). It will also direct them to multilingual resources, the spokesperson said.

The campaign includes “specialized media for communities identified by the City’s community liaison team,” the release said, set to run in 75 different media outlets, of which 30 are multilingual. It will use radio, television, newspapers and online channels.

These are targeted to not duplicate provincial advertising efforts, the release said.

As part of the City’s efforts to address vaccine equity, adults 50 years and older who live in high-priority or high-risk areas can now book vaccine appointments through Unity Health, the Toronto East Health Network, Humber River Hospital and Baycrest Centre websites. Click here for more information.

There are many other efforts underway too, said Toronto Public Health spokesperson Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health.

From now until next March, the city will be granting $5.5 million to community and grassroots organizations, as well as resident-led and faith-based groups, and will recruit and support 280 community ambassadors, Dubey said.

And since Monday, people 75 and older with limited or no transportation options, as well as younger people with disabilities or who are immune-compromised, have been able to get free transport from some community organizations, with more people to be eligible in the coming weeks, officials said.

It’s part of the “Vaccine Equity Transportation Plan” the city launched, aiming to support those who may not be able to afford or otherwise have access to vaccine appointments, Dubey said.

It is also extending the “Equity Action Plan” to provide emergency response and relief to the neighbourhoods hardest-hit during the pandemic, Dubey said, using $1.5 million to fund 12 lead agencies, and spending $1 million for Indigenous agencies and groups to “self-determine their approach to community engagement and mobilization.”

More equity-based initiatives are outlined in the city’s COVID-19 vaccination playbook.