Earlier this year a nimble council was formed. Its aim: to help with Covid-19 vaccination efforts in the Soo.
The Algoma Vaccination Support Council (AVSC) was created in March 2021, a joint effort between the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, STRIVE Young Professionals Group and Health & Safety Professionals Inc (HSPI). The council is co-chaired by Derek Jackson of STRIVE and Louise Caicco Tett of HSPI.
They’re now, of course, ramping their efforts up once again, hoping to lend their support to the community.
The council is comprised of local businesses, organizations and community stakeholders who share the goals of increasing vaccination literacy, disseminating information about local vaccination efforts and providing whatever support may be needed.
The AVSC has been quite successful to date, raising over $60,000 to support immunization clinics in the Algoma region. “The business community has been providing lunches, drinks and snacks to the many workers and volunteers at the clinics as our way of saying thank you for your hard work and dedication in keeping Algoma residents safe,” says Caicco Tett.
Currently, the council is in need of approximately $10,000 in order to be able to support the clinics until March 2022.
Many AVSC members have donated time and money to support the clinics. “The community, as always, has come together to support one another. Even the restaurant owners, from whom we are purchasing food, and have been hard hit during the pandemic, have been very generous in donating items and offering discounts so that our funds can be stretched out,” she says.
Many individuals from the community, kind and caring citizens who are not on the committee, have also reached out to offer donations or coffee and drinks. Several community members also provide rides to the clinics for those who cannot get there on their own.
“Ultimately we want our workers and citizens to be fully informed about the risks of Covid-19, the benefits and safety of the vaccines that are available and the opportunities available locally to receive them,” SSMCOC President Michael Stone said at the time the group was first formed.
The council strongly believes that the business community can play a significant role in ensuring that timely and accurate public health information reaches Sault Ste. Marie’s workers and their families, customers, clients and local citizens.
“Most businesses already have their own internal communications processes, so it makes sense to ensure that businesses are included in the distribution of information on COVID-19 and the vaccination process,” said Rory Ring, SSMCOC CEO.
Many businesses are uniquely positioned to be able to help facilitate the vaccination process. Some of the larger employers in the area, for example, have hosted in-house vaccination clinics. Others have been able to help with logistics, providing transportation for employees or their families to the clinics.
An impressive number of local businesses joined as founding members back in March and they represent thousands of members of the local workforce.
“Health & Safety Professionals Inc. has been instrumental in organizing and sustaining this committee. We are a company that supports workplaces in Algoma and believe in keeping workers safe through vaccination efforts and supporting our fellow businesses,” says Caicco Tett. “This one last push is required, and we are encouraging our community to show the clinic workers and volunteers how much we care.”
Although two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine provide protection against severe disease and hospitalization from Omicron, emerging evidence suggests that vaccine effectiveness is reduced against this new variant of concern and that two doses of vaccine no longer provide strong protection against symptomatic infection, according to Algoma Public Health. This means that people who have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine can still be infected with the Omicron strain and spread the infection to others.
“In addition to our volunteer and fundraising efforts, we have one major ask of the community as a whole,” says Jackson. “We ask every eligible citizen to roll up their sleeve and get their vaccinations and boosters. This is our best line of defense to keep our community healthy, ensure our health care systems are not overwhelmed, and work our way back to a community that is fully open for all businesses and residents.”
It’s not too late to get involved with the AVSC. Any assistance and support are appreciated, especially as the council continues to be busy, trying to help as many people as possible receive their booster shots.
The council welcomes any individuals or businesses who can offer assistance with logistics and support, whether that’s in the form of professional expertise, volunteers or donations.
Businesses can help by contacting the Chamber of Commerce directly, by emailing CEO Rory Ring or by going to the Chamber’s website and donating. Every donation, small and large, helps the local community and helps volunteers and workers feel supported.
For more information, visit the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.