OTTAWA – Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is calling for adults in racialized and marginalized communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 to be vaccinated immediately in response to the third wave of the pandemic.
“Public health and ethics demand that we vaccinate members of these groups without delay,” said Ms. Paul “Many racialized, immigrant and low-income adults are front-line and essential workers, carrying out the jobs that have kept our economy going and people in Canada safe, but which put them at substantially higher risk of infection. Often, their jobs are precarious and do not include sick pay. They travel to work on crowded public transit routes and often return home to overcrowded, inadequate housing where the risk of infection or spread is significantly higher.
“We know that the new COVID-19 variants are having a disproportionate impact on younger age groups; are 2.7 times higher in areas where essential workers live; and are increasing at the fastest rate amongst low-income essential workers. We also know that the new variants lead to a 60 per cent increased risk of hospitalization, a 100 per cent increased risk of intensive care admission, and a 60 per cent increased risk of death.
“The elevated risk of exposure, combined with an increased risk of serious illness or death are precisely why essential workers and racialized communities need to be prioritized immediately in the vaccine rollout, and why the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that ‘[a]dults in racialized and marginalized communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19’ be immunized at the same time as adults aged 60-69. In making the recommendation, NACI said that its goal was to make the pandemic response as ‘equitable, ethical and efficient as possible’ and to ‘minimize serious illness and deaths.’
“Despite the NACI recommendation, provinces have not adopted this approach and continue to exclude these vulnerable adults from vaccine prioritization. In Ontario, for instance, a perfectly healthy 60-year-old who works at home and lives in a community with little to no COVID-19 infection has been eligible to receive a vaccine in Toronto, while a 59-year-old supermarket worker with no sick leave and living in a densely populated community with the highest rates of infection in the city still is not. This is bad public health policy and profoundly inequitable.
“Essential workers, low-income, and racialized communities have been repeatedly let down throughout the pandemic and have paid a high price. If we are going to better protect these communities during the third wave – and in so doing, better protect all Canadians in this third wave – we need to make them a priority group for immediate vaccination.”
- Ms. Paul’s Letter to Premier Ford and Mayor John Tory attached
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