HAAC and ABSW operate a province-wide toll-free number for people of African descent to call and ask questions or seek resources to support their unique needs
- COVID-19 and Influenza Vaccines
- Free Routine Vaccines in Nova Scotia
- Accessing COVID-19 Testing
- Accessing COVID-19 Medications
- About the Advisory Committee for Black Public Health
COVID-19 and Influenza Vaccines
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.
It’s now easier than ever to access the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines. Appointments are available to book online or by phone, and drop-in clinics will be held in Black communities. Local drop-in clinics will be posted on this webpage as they are booked, beginning in November 2023.
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.
Book your COVID-19 and influenza vaccines:
https://novascotia.ca/vaccination or call 1-833-797-7772.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- Influenza Vaccine Information
- Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccines - Commonly Asked Questions
- Influenza vaccine information sheet
- COVID-19 mRNA vaccine information sheet
Free Routine Vaccines in Nova Scotia
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Accessing COVID-19 Testing
If you are sick, please stay home. If you can’t stay home, limit contact with others and consider wearing a mask to prevent spreading illness in Black communities.
COVID-19 testing is available across the province. It is recommended that people test if they have even one symptom of COVID-19. If you are sick, take a rapid COVID-19 test and repeat in 48 hours if your first test is negative, or book a PCR (lab) test.
How to Get Tested:
- Book your test online or call 1-833-797-7772
- Find a Public Health Mobile Unit in your community
- Pick up rapid tests in the community
Accessing COVID-19 Medications
COVID-19 medications are available for those who are at higher risk for severe illness and qualify for treatment, including some people of African descent. In order to be considered for medication, you must complete the Report and Support form when you book a PCR test or have a positive rapid test. If you qualify for treatment, you will receive a phone call for further assessment. If you do not get a phone call, it means that in your current situation, you wouldn’t benefit from COVID-19 treatment.
Complete Report and Support online or call 1-833-797-7772
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.