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COVID-19: Toronto announces funds to vaccinate vulnerable youth

Click to play video: 'COVID vaccination clinic at Toronto Zoo for education and childcare staff' COVID vaccination clinic at Toronto Zoo for education and childcare staff
WATCH: There is a push by the province to provide education and childcare staff with booster shots. Caryn Lieberman reports from a vaccine clinic at the Toronto Zoo – Jan 12, 2022

The City of Toronto will send almost half a million dollars to youth-serving organizations in an effort to increase vaccination rates among young people.

The move is part of the City’s plan to reduce barriers to vaccination and increase uptake in communities where it has stalled. The latest funds, totalling $450,000 between four organizations, were announced to help vulnerable youth.

“This important work will enable the health, well-being and recovery of our city,” Councillor Joe Cressy, the chair of the the Toronto Board of Health, said in a media release.

Read more: Toronto to pivot COVID-19 vaccine strategy, focus on ‘hyper-local’ approach

First-dose and second-dose uptake among young people has been high in Toronto but booster appointments have stalled.

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Around 94 per cent of those aged 12 to 17 and 95 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 have had their first dose, according to the City of Toronto’s vaccination dashboard. A further 91 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds and 95 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds have had a second dose.

The dashboard shows only 23 per cent of people aged 12 to 17 have had a third shot; the rate is 56 per cent for those aged 18 to 24. By comparison, 72 per cent of people aged 70 to 79 have had their booster shot.

Read more: Vax And Read campaign to bring COVID-19 vaccines to Toronto Public Library branches

The funds will pay for engagement until September 2022.

WoodGreen Community Services will lead outreach in the south of the city and Shakespeare in Action will tackle the west. Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women has been assigned north Toronto and Agincourt Community Services will work in the east.

“As a theatre and arts education company, the pandemic has necessitated we shift our programming and show up for our community in new and innovative ways,” David di Giovanni, artistic director of Shakespeare in Action, said.

He said the grant will allow the company to build on its work and partnerships and facilitate free pop-up gathering spaces for families “while providing vaccine information.”

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