Image copyright Reuters Image caption Sarah Guzile, 41, of Toronto, is one of five doctors who have signed up to deliver the anti-vax message directly to residents
City officials in Toronto, Canada, have launched a “micro-clinic” to get about 3,500 residents who have been reluctant to get vaccinations, on board.
They believe it could boost their local vaccination rate, making Toronto one of the first Canadian cities to try such a thing.
The goal of micro-clinics is to address a perception among some that vaccines can cause illnesses such as autism.
Population research firm Ipsos put vaccination rates in Canada at 80.9% in 2016, down from 83.5% in 2011, according to CBC News. The city of Toronto has a vaccination rate of 97.8%, according to the civic health authority.
The initiative will include staff and volunteers carrying out one-hour vaccinations at an adult care home and another adult care home. The doctors will then deliver their messages to the residents.
In order to get the anti-vax message across, the doctors will include presentations about the risks of disease, but will not carry out direct instructions.
“We will listen to our guests,” said Dr Diana Myremani, one of the doctors working on the project.
“We’re not giving instructions.”
Sarah Guzile, 41, who works in social work in Toronto, is one of the five doctors who has signed up to deliver the message.
She said she was motivated to join the initiative after her 21-month-old baby was diagnosed with meningitis B – and was hospitalised for more than a week.
Ms Guzile said she is very worried about her son getting the B meningitis vaccination because it is an invasive one.
“I don’t want to expose him to more infection,” she said.
She said she doesn’t understand why the city of Toronto has to provide services to adults when it has a large child population that also has to be vaccinated.
She said she is hoping people with the hesitant or unvaccinated will have a “breakthrough” when she talks to them about the benefits of the vaccines and the side effects.
“I’d love it to be about helping people,” she said.
The city of Toronto also runs a mobile clinic for homes with toddlers, and a Hepatitis B vaccination van.
While the work to get more Canadians vaccinated is continuing, two researchers believe people may be on the brink of an overdue change.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A van with Hepatitis B vaccination offered services at Fairview Mall shopping centre in Toronto
John Lawrence, of Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology and Ian Deary, of the University of Toronto, recently published a paper on the failure of British medicine to change a trend that has led to diminished vaccination rates in the past 50 years.
The biggest change in current vaccine uptake since the turn of the millennium is the rise of social media, Dr Lawrence and Dr Deary argue.
There has been increased social acceptance of people who believe there are risks associated with vaccines, said Dr Lawrence.
“We’ve had a spectacular increase in social media and advertising that has seduced people to this dangerous position that there is a reason not to vaccinate their children, even if it’s uncontroversial science,” he said.
Dr Lawrence and Dr Deary are supporting the Toronto effort to get residents to be more immunocompetent, so the city will not face a future of limited access to healthcare.
But they also say there is a chance there will be a rapid, abrupt drop-off in the vaccinations as well.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The two researchers are supporting the Toronto initiative to get residents more immunocompetent
“We want this to be a one-off; we don’t expect this will have sustained impact,” said Dr Lawrence.
“If a vaccine drops from 98% to 96% as many people stop immunising, they’ll need to replace it with another vaccine. It’s a double whammy,” he said