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Public Health Resources for Black People

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Free Routine Vaccines in Nova Scotia

Make vaccination part of Black health and your family’s wellness.

Getting vaccinated is an easy and effective way to make your health a priority, and protect your loved ones. Black children should receive all infant and childhood vaccines, to protect their long-term health and wellness.

Although it is still possible to get sick even if you are vaccinated, vaccines reduce the risk of severe illness, while protecting loved ones and Black communities.

Black families are recommended to receive all routine vaccines, which are given for free in Nova Scotia. Routine vaccines begin at two months old and continue all our lives. The vaccine schedule for all ages can be found at this link. Other vaccines may be recommended for those who have certain risk factors, and you can talk to your health care provider or call your Public Health office for more information. Most routine vaccines are given by family doctors and nurse practitioners, and some are given by pharmacies or Public Health. If you have questions, contact your local Public Health office. More information about each of the vaccines can be found at www.immunize.ca

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Babies and Young Children

In the first few years of life, free vaccines are provided to protect Black children from over a dozen diseases:

  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping cough (pertussis), Polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • Rotavirus
  • Pneumonia
  • Influenza
  • COVID-19 
  • Meningococcal disease type C
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Chickenpox (varicella)

Some of these, like diphtheria, polio, or tetanus, can be serious but are rare because vaccines have been very successful in preventing these diseases from spreading. Other diseases, like pneumonia or whooping cough are more common but can be equally as serious. Vaccines help keep Black children healthy by preventing these diseases or making the infection milder. 

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Youth

Because of their age and activities, youth have different risk factors compared to children, so additional vaccines are offered for free in grade 7 to protect Black youth against:

  • HPV (human papilloma virus)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal disease types A, C, W, and Y
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis) (the “Tdap” vaccine)

These vaccines are given as part of Public Health's School Immunization Program. If they are missed, they can be received up to and including 18 years of age. Black youth should also receive COVID-19 and influenza vaccines as recommended.

The Meningococcal B vaccine is offered for free to certain youth aged 25 years and under who are moving into a large group living setting with other young adults for the first time. More information is available here

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Adults

Black individuals should continue to receive vaccines throughout adulthood to maintain their long-term health and wellness and protect their loved ones.

Vaccines given in adulthood include:

  • Influenza vaccine
  • COVID-19 vaccine
  • Tdap vaccine
  • Tetanus boosters (Td vaccine)
  • MMR vaccine

The schedule outlines how often these vaccines should be received in adulthood. Tdap vaccine should be given in every pregnancy to help protect the baby once it’s born. 

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Seniors

As you age, infections may make you sicker and it may take you longer to recover and get back to the activities you enjoy. 

The following vaccines are offered to Black adults aged 65 years and older to keep them healthier, longer.

  • High-dose influenza vaccine, which protects against influenza with a higher dose that works better in older adults
  • Pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against pneumonia caused by many strains of the pneumococcal bacteria
  • COVID-19 vaccine, which protects against severe disease from COVID-19.

Seniors should also continue to get tetanus boosters.

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People with High Risk Health Conditions

Black people are disproportionately affected by many serious health conditions, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and others. Conditions like these put people at higher risk for severe illness from vaccine-preventable infections.

People with certain serious health conditions may qualify for additional vaccines for free. Publicly funded vaccines vary based on different health conditions. You can find a full list of available vaccines for people with high-risk conditions at this link. 

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About the Advisory Committee for Black Public Health

Due to anti-Black racism, social and economic factors, people of African descent are at a higher risk for getting sick and are disproportionately affected by severe illness and hospitalization. 

The Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW), Health Association of African Canadians (HAAC), and other African Nova Scotian and Black community organizations work closely with health system leaders to develop strategies to build trust and improve health outcomes for people of African descent. Our key partners include Nova Scotia Health Public Health and the Department of Health and Wellness.

This partnership began during COVID-19, during which time Black community leaders worked to ensure people of African descent were represented at the table, and to support local access to resources. We are now transitioning pandemic work into long-term, meaningful improvements in health care access and quality of care for Black and African Nova Scotian communities, with a focus on the importance of vaccination as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Watch this video to learn more about the work this group has done to support COVID-19 vaccination for people of African descent.

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