The City of Toronto has distributed $4.6 million in grants to support its Vaccine Engagement Teams (VETs) in reducing barriers to COVID-19 vaccines and increasing access and vaccination uptake in equity-deserving communities.
Funding will go toward continued equity-based outreach and engagement activities in neighbourhoods and communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and remain vulnerable due to disparities in exposure and vaccination coverage. Details on funding allocation and activities per organization are available on the COVID-19: City Immunization Strategies webpage.
VETs have been a key component of Toronto’s world-leading COVID-19 vaccination campaign success. This funding is available through the extension of the Community Immunization Engagement and Mobilization program to December 31, 2022, ensuring ongoing opportunities to increase vaccine equity and access for all residents (News Release about the City of Toronto extending work of COVID-19 Vaccine Engagement Teams to December 2022). The City is continuing to submit costs for the program to the Province of Ontario as part of its ongoing COVID-19 response.
VETs operate through 17 geographic and population-based consortiums with over 200 health, community and faith-based organizations. Since the program’s launch in March 2021, VETs and more than 600 community ambassadors have spent more than 70,000 hours building vaccine confidence and have engaged with Torontonians more than 2.3 million times in more than 40 different languages.
A program evaluation found that the work of VETs has resulted in increased vaccine confidence, access and uptake among diverse communities across Toronto and reduced socioeconomic barriers to government services.