Sickle Cell Awareness Group Of Ontario


The Sickle Cell Awareness Group Of Ontario Collaborates With The African Canadian Social Development Council To Improve Vaccine Uptake In The Black Community
By: Emmanuel Ayiku & Jonathan Annobil, Toronto, Ontario
Dr. Melanie Kirby-Allen

Hematologist / Oncologist
Sick Kids Hospital

Mrs. Lane Ttunji-Ajayi

Global Advocate & CEO
Sickle Cell Group of Ontario

Dr. Suzan Williams

Hematologist / Oncologist
Sick Kids Hospital

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Black communities. Furthermore, misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccination and distrust due to historical mistreatment within the medical and research system has also caused some levels of vaccine hesitancy within the Black community. As a consequence of poor experiences with the healthcare system, vaccine hesitancy may also be present in individuals with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), who often identify as Black. Despite this, there are very few research studies done about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the Black community - and even fewer studies done in the SCD community.

To address this gap in understanding, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) provided funds to the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario (SCAGO) to improve vaccine acceptance in the targeted communities. As part of the PHAC project, the SCAGO will conduct a research project titled, "Vaccine Hesitancy in the SCD/Black Community: At the intersection of Race and Chronic Disease", Led by Dr. Melanie Kirby-Allen, Dr. Suzan Williams and Mrs. Lanre Tunji-Ajayi of SickKids Hospital, and the SCAGO, respectively, the study aims to identify the factors associated with vaccine hesitancy and acceptance.

The project will be supported by the African-Canadian Social Development Council and its membership, along with centers of excellence in Ontario, including the University Health Network, and SickKids Hospital. William Osler Health Systems, McMaster Medical Center, and London Health Sciences Center. As part of the community support segment of this project, the SCAGO will provide funding for transportation by supplying Uber gift cards to those traveling to treatment or to procure a COVID-19 vaccine. Other barriers to vaccination and improved health outcomes will be addressed through food provision, rapid test kits, and counseling support.

About the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario: SCAGO is a leading charitable patient organization providing evidence-based support to families with children adolescents, and adults, with sickle cell disease across the four regions of the province. It supports clinical research and engages in psycho-social research, health promotion, patients and care providers education community awareness, and the development of best practices guidelines. Since its establishment, SCAGO has invested 100% of its resources in improving the quality of life of individuals and families affected by sickle cell disease.

It engages in evidentiary advocacy on their behalf with the government, schools, and the healthcare system. A few of our key achievements include the successful advocacy for individuals with SCD and on continuous blood transfusion to have access to life-saving iron chelation drugs in support of their treatment regimen and the passing of Bill 255, enacting June 19 as the Provincial Sickle Cell Awareness Day. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the SCAGO has been supporting the SCD community by providing psychosocial support, information sessions, and financial aid.



Leave your comment


Emmanuel Ayiku, Toronto, ON
Emmanuel Ayiku, Toronto, ONEmmanuel Ayiku works as a Vice President at National Ethnic Press, their management level is VP-Level. Emmanuel is currently based in Toronto, Canada.

The National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and integrate the economic, social, and cultural interests of ethnic communities into the mainstream of Canadian society. Over the last twenty-six years, the NEP has built a strong membership that today stands at more than 800 titles.

Read More


Jonathan Annobil, Toronto, ON
Jonathan Annobil, Toronto, ON---

Read More