Billboard campaign aims to dispel mistrust of vaccines in African Nova Scotian community
Public heath and African Nova Scotian leaders are collaborating on the initiative
A new billboard campaign is trying to dispel misinformation about vaccines within the African Nova Scotia community.
The Black Health Immunization Campaign is a collaboration between Nova Scotia Health, the Africville Heritage Trust, the Health Association of African Canadians and the Discovery Centre.
Billboards are being erected around the city and posters will be displayed in 163 Halifax Transit buses.
"We needed to make sure that we did everything we could to keep our communities safe," said Dr. David Haase, a retired infectious disease physician.
Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines has resulted in mistrust of those and other vaccines among some African Nova Scotians, even though the pandemic has disproportionately affected that community, Dr. Haase said.
The billboards highlight health services available for African Nova Scotians and feature members of the community in an effort to better connect with people.
"I feel that by being able to see locals, being able to see them in the grocery store and say, 'Oh isn't that you on that billboard there' — it's so important to bring that connection," said Andrew Howe, health science educator at the Discovery Centre.
"Then that brings the product that we're trying to bring, which is the vaccine information, that makes it more relatable to our community and makes it more engaged with it," he said.
Howe said the billboards were made to be bright and quickly recognizable by passersby.
Nova Scotia's chief medical doctor said there has been a lower vaccine uptake in African Nova Scotian communities and other marginalized communities in the province that face barriers in accessing health care.
"This is all about, not public health leading, but how do we actually work with the community so the community can lead in helping address a whole range of health issues, immunization being an important one of those," Dr. Robert Strang said.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.