Africa Centre vaccine clinics see big turn out among north Edmonton community

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A new COVID-19 vaccine clinic hosted at the Africa Centre is helping local leaders overcome hesitancy and other barriers among its community members.

Emmanuel Onah, the centre’s project manager, said they have held two clinics at 6770 129 Ave. alongside Alberta Health Services. They plan to hold at least two more in the coming weeks to get shots in the arms of those who can’t make it to other centres.

“The first day we did it, we filled up our lists,” said Onah, estimating they’ve vaccinated more than 200 community members through the clinic already.

Onah said they have also been working with community members to ensure they have all accurate information regarding the effectiveness of the shots. He said many marginalized people are hesitant to receive a vaccine due to a history of unethical medical experiments.

But he and other staff have relationships with members of the community that leads to trust. That helps when discussing the benefits and minor risks associated with getting vaccinated.

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“We are part of the community. They know us. So when somebody calls me, someone who knows me, and if I have the right information, it’s easy for them to believe, because they know me,” said Onah.

The clinics at the Africa centre are open to anyone who wants a shot, Onah said.

On top of the two clinics at the Africa Centre, Onah said there have been several sessions at Boyle Street’s C-5 northeast hub and at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers.

The provincial government has made vaccines eligible to all Albertans aged 12 and up. As of Friday, 60.3 per cent of eligible people had received at least one shot. Two weeks after that number reaches 70 per cent, the government plans to remove almost all public health measures.

Vaccines are available at AHS clinic across the province as well as pharmacies and some physician offices. The province’s first drive-thru clinic recently opened in northeast Calgary.

Requests for comments on plans for future community clinics were not returned by AHS.

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