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Indian Society of Calgary receives $25K grant from feds to reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Click to play video: 'Overcoming Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination plateau to a return to normalcy' Overcoming Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination plateau to a return to normalcy
One-fifth of eligible Canadians are now fully vaccinated for COVID-19, paving a path out of pandemic restrictions. Mike Drolet looks at the efforts underway across the country to get shots into arms of the vaccine hesitant, including some Indigenous communities – Jun 19, 2021

Calgary’s South Asian community is getting a boost from the federal government to help vaccinate more people against COVID-19.

The Indian Society of Calgary is one of 20 finalists across Canada that have been awarded $25,000 from the Public Health Agency of Canada for the Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge to run a 12-week program to promote vaccine confidence in their communities.

Read more: Nearly 20% of Canadians still hesitant or refusing to get COVID-19 vaccine: poll

Jay Chowdhury with the society said people might face barriers to the vaccine, like language or technology, so the grant will be used to conduct outreach in the South Asian community.

“We really want the community to get vaccinated, not just for the sake of safeguarding themselves, but what is important is that we want them to safeguard the community,” he told Global News on Sunday.

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The Indian Society of Calgary said it will develop a video series “raising awareness of the benefits of vaccine uptake, busting myths and highlighting the significance of complying with public health measures.”

Read more: Vaccine hesitancy: What prevents some Albertans from getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

In addition to using social media, the society said it is looking to kickstart conversations between those from a younger generation and their parents and grandparents.

“In the South Asian community, it is very family-oriented, family-connected, so we are actually using the younger generation to reach out to the elderly generation,” Chowdhury said.

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“Not only as a family, not only as a community, not only as an Albertan, we are in this together, and I think the best thing that we can reach out is one family member to others because they know each other well.”

‘A ripple effect’

After the 12 weeks is up, one winner will receive a grand prize of $100,000, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“We can reach out to our community, but we also believe that there will be a ripple effect, not exclusively for the South Asian community,” Chowdhury said.

“People from other communities will also be helped and blessed through our program.”

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