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UPEI-led project receives funding to create Island Vaccine Support Program

Improving health literacy among Islanders about infectious disease prevention
| Research
Dr. William Montelpare, Margaret and Wallace McCain Chair in Human Development and Health at UPEI
Dr. William Montelpare, Margaret and Wallace McCain Chair in Human Development and Health at UPEI

A team led by Dr. William Montelpare, Margaret and Wallace McCain Chair in Human Development and Health at UPEI, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the federal government’s Immunization Partnership Fund (IPF) Program for a project to develop and implement a vaccine support program for Prince Edward Island.

The project is one of 67 announced on January 21, 2022, by the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C, Minister of Health Canada—Santé Canada. The IPF supports community-based projects that encourage vaccine confidence and uptake, and improve access to vaccines.

Led by Montelpare, the Island Vaccine Support Program is a collaboration between UPEI’s faculties of Science, Nursing, and Education; CHANCES Family Centre (Caring, Helping, And Nurturing, Children Every Step); and other community organizations including the Immigrant and Refugee Services Association PEI; PEI BIPOC-USHR; and all seven Family Resource Centres located across PEI.

The project team will develop evidence-based materials that aim to provide information about immunization particularly about the COVID-19 vaccine, along with emotional and structural support. A community outreach model will be used to provide accurate information about immunization programs; identify and reduce barriers that prevent families from participating in immunization programs; increase uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine; and create opportunities for informed decision-making among families that face additional life challenges.

“Our primary goal is to improve health literacy among Islanders about infectious disease prevention, particularly COVID-19,” said Montelpare. “We hope to increase the number of individuals who schedule and receive routine vaccinations, beginning with COVID-19, and continue with other immunization programs.”  

An Island-wide survey will be used to identify barriers to immunization as experienced by Islanders. This survey will be widely disseminated beginning in March 2022 and will be used to inform the development of the Island Vaccine Support Program. The program will be delivered between June and December 2022 through CHANCES along with other community-based partners, and through virtual presentations. 

“I am so pleased to work with CHANCES and the Family Resource Centre network on PEI on this project,” he said. “Their knowledge and participation will be invaluable as we try to reach as many people as possible—families and individuals—across the province to promote evidence-based information about immunization.”

Ann Robertson, executive director of CHANCES, expressed pleasure at being involved in the project.

“We are delighted that CHANCES and the other Family Resource Centres across PEI, who work directly with thousands of Island families are partnering in this initiative. More than ever, families need easy access to trusted information, especially offered through the existing network of family support.” 

Dr. Katherine Gottschall-Pass, interim vice president academic and research at UPEI, congratulated Montelpare and his team on being awarded funding for the project. 

“On behalf of UPEI, I congratulate Dr. Montelpare and his team on being awarded funding for this very important project,” she said. “Vaccines are essential to protecting human health—from babies to senior citizens—now more than ever during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is incumbent upon us as a research community to do all that we can to increase confidence in and uptake of vaccines and to reduce barriers to immunization.”

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