Medical racism against Indigenous communities remains rampant. How can a COVID-19 vaccine be deployed equitably?

Transparency and representation are key to an equitable vaccine rollout for Indigenous communities

Why It Matters

The Canadian government is promising a smooth rollout of approved COVID-19 vaccines to everyone who wants one. But even the best logistical systems will be irrelevant if Indigenous peoples, who are considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19, are reluctant to be vaccinated due to a history of medical racism.

Every time Lindsay Peach, the executive director of Mi’kmaq Health and Wellness, walks into the convention centre of the Membertou First Nation, an Indigenous community near Sydney, Nova Scotia, she has flashbacks to the H1N1 pandemic. 

Back then, the convention centre acted as a makeshift vaccination site for the community of around 1,600. Peach recalls seeing people lined up around the corner during the H1N1 pandemic, waiting for their shots. “I think, in this case, the planning for the COVID vaccine needs to look so different because we can’t have people gathered in large areas like we would for a mass immunization clinic,” she says. “The whole logistics requires a rethink of everything we would have done before.” 

That convention centre may very well be used again as the province of Nova Scotia rolls out its COVID-19 vaccination strategy for its 13 Mi

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