Drug users in Vancouver respond to targeted effort to ramp up vaccination rate

published on April 7, 2022 by Camille Bains in Vancouver Sun

Efforts to provide COVID-19 vaccines to as many drug users as possible in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have paid off, prompting an advocate to urge communities with similar, vulnerable populations across the country to learn lessons from a targeted, well-resourced approach.

Karen Ward said a study that showed high vaccine uptake in the neighbourhood also suggests a co-ordinated strategy can work with a marginalized group that sometimes faces discrimination in the health-care system.

Ward, who was not involved in the study, said drop-in clinics, including at a community centre, a market, a hotel parking lot and the office of a drug users group, made getting vaccinated easy, with little waiting around.

“There were street nurses. They walked around and said, ‘Anybody need a shot?’”

“If you actually make the effort and you put in resources properly, you can do it,” said Ward, a drug user who advises the City of Vancouver on overdose response and policies around illicit substances…

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