News July 5, 2021

Women’s College Hospital & 19 to Zero Launch Vaccine Engagement Strategy

  • July 5, 2021

Funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada supports a national campaign to enhance COVID-19 vaccine confidence and education for healthcare practitioners working in long-term care and homecare

Toronto, ON— July 5, 2021 — Today Women’s College Hospital (WCH) and 19 to Zero are proud to announce funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) for the launch of a new vaccine engagement strategy targeting non-physician healthcare workers. WCH and 19 to Zero is one of three organizations selected as part of the Government of Canada’s Immunization Partnership Fund, which aims to enhance COVID-19 vaccine confidence, uptake and access.

Leveraging survey and focus group data, WCH and 19 to Zero will work in collaboration with community-based partners in Ontario and Alberta to develop a suite of evidence-informed messaging and creative concepts specific to healthcare practitioners working in long-term care and homecare, such as personal support works (PSWs) and developmental support workers (DSWs). Messaging and creative concepts, such as ads, digital graphics and social media videos will speak directly to the experiences and perspectives of this group of healthcare workers, their families and their clients.  

“We want to reach people where they are at, and we need to help turn trusted healthcare practitioners into effective vaccine advocates,” said Dr. Noah Ivers, WCH clinician scientist, a medical lead with 19 to Zero and project lead for this initiative. “To do that, we are applying a two-pronged strategy that combines media and mass-communication with direct local outreach, primarily through town hall events and community ambassadors. Research consistently demonstrates the importance of trusted community members in driving vaccine confidence.”

“Healthcare practitioners working in high-risk settings like PSWs have been heroes throughout the pandemic – our goal is to help them now be heroic by spreading the good news about how amazingly safe and effective these vaccines are and how they are helping us all return to normal. Working with our program partners, the strategy will support these local leaders and influencers in becoming effective vaccine advocates,” Dr. Ivers shared.

Given their high-risk exposure, close contact with marginalized populations and potential to act as role models, it is essential that healthcare workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, vaccination rates for non-physician healthcare workers has stagnated at roughly 70 per cent, which is below the required threshold.

“Our engagement strategy is particularly focused on capacity building and outreach to essential care workers like PSWs, DSWs and other support staff, as they’re role is often overlooked by the health system,” explained Dr. Jia Hu, Chair of 19 to Zero.

 “These professionals are uniquely positioned to drive behavior change. The vast majority of PSWs for example, are women who belong to racialized or newcomer communities. As advocates and local leaders with healthcare experience, they are able to speak directly to members of their community to address any reservations they may have about vaccines. Moreover, they understand their community members perspectives, history and attitudes towards the health system.”

The multi-pronged approach undertaken by WCH and 19 to Zero will not only advance the uptake of vaccinations amongst this critical group of healthcare professionals, their families and community members but will help to enable greater trust and confidence in the health system for future public health initiatives.

 About Women’s College Hospital
For more than 100 years Women’s College Hospital (WCH) has been developing revolutionary advances in healthcare. Today, WCH is a world leader in the health of women and Canada’s leading, academic ambulatory hospital. A champion of health equity, WCH advocates for the health of all women from diverse cultures and backgrounds and ensures their needs are reflected in the care they receive. It focuses on delivering innovative solutions that address Canada’s most pressing issues related to population health, patient experience and system costs. The WCH Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) is developing new, scalable models of care that deliver improved outcomes for patients and sustainable solutions for the health system as a whole.

 About 19 to Zero
19 to Zero is a dedicated coalition of academics, public health experts, behavioural economists, and creative professionals working to understand, engage with, and ultimately shift public perceptions around COVID-19 behaviours and vaccination. ​19 to Zero was launched at the University of Calgary in August of 2020. The team leads the implementation of CONVINCE Canada (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement).

Jordan Benadiba
Manager, Public Affairs | Women’s College Hospital
T: 416-323-6400 ext.3210 | E:


Fully affiliated with

A member of

Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO)