As more Canadians become eligible and receive their COVID-19 vaccine, it is like seeing the light at the end of the dark pandemic tunnel, bringing excitement and hope to our team, our newcomer clients and adjacent communities, given our mission is to assist in the settlement and integration of newcomers. But our mandate also includes looking out for all community members.

To support local vaccination efforts, CCS partnered with two separate organizations recently to host three vaccination clinics. First, we worked with the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities (SCHC) on June 24th and July 15th.

SCHC had approached us to determine the potential of running a clinic at one of our sites. They provide inclusive and comprehensive community health programs for vulnerable and marginalized residents and had recently organized many pop-up clinics.

They identified our Settlement Integration Place (SIP) program on Eglinton Avenue East as the ideal location, due to the low vaccination rate in the adjacent community (partially because some community members had been having difficulties accessing the online booking system). SCHC visited the site and helped us reconfigure the office to accommodate the normal floor plan for a clinic, consisting of space for registration, health screening, vaccination recovery and a check-out area.

The first clinic was on a first-come, first-serve basis and began early as people started lining up at 6:00 a.m.! The line ended up wrapping around the building and doctors and nurses administered 240 vaccines.

“A large number of people from our community benefitted from it. In this unprecedented time, when more and more individuals need to get vaccinated, this nice effort of CCS turned out to be very successful and, as always, I found the staff very cooperative and helpful,” said one client.

The second clinic on July 15th was also held at the SIP location, with a total of 144 vaccines administered. A big percentage of those who attended received their second shot. CCS Settlement Services Manager, Monica Zheng, was thrilled: ““This is good; the lower amount of turnout for the second pop-up indicates that most clients have been vaccinated in the community,” she said.

On September 23rd, in partnership with the Region of Peel, we coordinated our third clinic, this time at our 3660 Hurontario Street site in Mississauga. The health team administered 128 vaccines, including 80 people receiving their first shot. But unlike the other two clinics, this time a pre-registration link was shared exclusively with CCS clients. As a result of outreach efforts through CCS social media and our settlement workers, available spots filled up quickly, necessitating pre-registration closing early to allow for walk-ins.

We were thrilled to be able to provide vaccinations to our CCS Peel clients, building staff, and two newly-arrived Afghan families! Manjeet Badyal, Settlement Services Manager, was excited with the turnout as there is generally a low vaccine uptake in the adjacent area. According to a Region of Peel representative who was onsite, turnouts are generally less than 100 people:

“Everyone was fantastic and contributed to a great environment. Many clients were grateful for the safe space. It made a difference to those who decided to get vaccinated,” the representative said.

All three CCS clinics were possible because of collaboration and trusted partnerships. We would like to thank the 3660 Hurontario building management team for their support, especially for the space on the first floor – and the free parking too! A big shout out goes to our CCS staff and student volunteer, Mayssam Moutawi, who collectively all oversaw logistics and outreach efforts – Monica Zheng, Manjeet Badyal, Lynda Sua, Christina Kwon, Robin Bynoe, Aura Ignatius, Anna Cabral, Fadwa Hamed, Maripi Malana, Asmaa Abdulraheem, Maria Ali, Rakan Alrushud, Christel Rayos, Zainab Shebeita, Zosia Kokoszka, Nadia Afrin, Darcy Bonner, and Manimolie Kanagasabapathy.

CCS is proud to have partnered with SCHC and the Region of Peel to deliver essential community-facing health initiatives and be part of the solution during a public health crisis. As a settlement organization, we have close ties to our neighbourhoods. We value building trust with our community members and we were excited to remove barriers to  vaccinations.