COVID-19 Vaccine Promotion

Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity

Created in December 2020 by the City of Toronto as part of the TO Supports: Targeted Equity Action Plan in partnership with the TAIBU Community Health Centre to increase vaccine uptake/combat “vaccine hesitancy” among black people of African and Caribbean origins.1) 2)

Town Hall Meetings

The Task Force held a series of virtual “town hall meetings” in order to “harness trusted community partners, health and medical professionals and academics to deliver fundamentals of vaccine development and immunization essentials.”3) Partners for the events included Black Creek Community Health Centre (CHC), Black North Initiative (BNI), Black Opportunities Fund, Black Physicians Association of Ontario, Canadian Black Clergy and Allies (CBCA), the Black Health Alliance, the Canadian Multicultural Inventors Museum, the Harriet Tubman Institute, the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), the Walnut Foundation, Wellesley Institute, and Women’s Health in Women’s Hands.

The group estimated that “vaccine hesitancy was reduced by at least 25% among approximately 6785 participants in its 20 Town Halls”. A final report produced six action points:

  1. “Immunization coverage does not match racialized rates of positivity, hospitalization, and death”;
  2. “Inadequate sick days and income support” (which calls for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit to be transitioned into a form of universal basic income);
  3. “Deliberate misinformation circulated on social media”;
  4. “Availability of race-based data”;
  5. “Surging mental health concerns”;
  6. “Shortage of vaccines across source countries for families of many Black Torontonians compounding local stress and grief” (calling on the federal government to send 15% of its supply overseas through COVAX and the World Health Organization, to bolster support for the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization/GAVI, as well as support a measure of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remove regulatory barriers to scale up vaccine production).


Akwatu Khenti

Dr. Akwatu Khenti is the Special Advisor to the City of Toronto’s Targeted COVID Equity Action Plan and the Chair of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity. Dr. Khenti is an Assistant Professor with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and an advisor to the school on equity and inclusion. He is formerly the Assistant Deputy Minister for the Province of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate, as well as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Director of Transformative Global Health.

Zainab Abdurrahman

Dr. Zainab Abdurrahman is a graduate of the University of Toronto Medical School and completed both her pediatrics and subspecialty training in Clinical Immunology and Allergy at McMaster University. At McMaster Children’s Hospital, she is the allergy lead in the Special Immunization Clinic focusing on vaccine allergy. She is also a practicing allergist in the Greater Toronto Area. Member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

Trevor Aldrige

Trevor Aldridge is the Senior Director of Quality & Compliance at Brevitas Consulting Inc., working with Sanofi, Fresenius Kabi, Teva Pharmaceuticals, National Resilience, Inc., Patheon, Ceva, Labstat, Medicago, SiO2 Materials Science, Therapure BioPharma Inc., Biovectra, Apotex, EmpowerPharm, Alphora, Kisoji Biotechnology, JayChem, OctaPharma, NucroTechnics, NoNO Inc., Chemtura, AIMCo, Grantek, Purolator, University of Toronto, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.4) He has more than 30 years of industry experience, including product and process development and the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals. His previous positions include Director Quality Operations with Sanofi Pasteur Ltd and Drug and Biologicals Specialist with Health Canada.5)

Upton Allen

Dr. Upton Allen is a professor at the University of Toronto and the Division Head of Infectious Diseases, and Senior Associate Scientist in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences Program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

David Burt

Dr. David Burt is an Immunologist with more than 30 years of international experience in the research and development of vaccines against infectious diseases, including influenza and SARS. He holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Birmingham and a Bachelor of Science in Biological Chemistry from Essex University. He is an award-winning author with over 40 published peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and is a Harry Jerome Award recipient, amongst other Canadian and international awards. Dr. Burt is currently a member of the Review Panel of the Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) of Ontario Genomics and a consultant for a company developing a Canadian government supported intranasal vaccine for COVID-19 using technology that he previously developed.

Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Celina Caesar-Chavannes has a Bachelor of Science and an Executive MBA from the University of Toronto, as well as an MBA in Healthcare Management from the University of Phoenix. Although most noted for her service as a Member of Parliament, with the Government of Canada representing the Town of Whitby, Mrs. Caesar-Chavannes is also a research consultant and has worked with a variety of international and Canadian private, government and non-government organizations.

Francis Jeffers

Francis Jeffers is the founder of the Visions of Science Network for Learning. Jeffers currently works within the pharmaceutical industry as a Quality Control Specialist, including vaccine development.

Juannittah Kamera

Juannittah Kamera is a Registered Nurse and the Coordinator, Health Promotion Programs, overseeing Ryerson University’s Health Promotion Programs Office. She has a master’s degree in Public Health and Health Promotion.

Na-Koshie Lamptey

Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey is the Deputy Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto. Lamptey obtained her medical degree at the University of Toronto, as well as degrees in Epidemiology and Public Health Management from Yale University and a Bachelor of liberal arts from Princeton University.

Kwame McKenzie

Dr. Kwame McKenzie is CEO of the Wellesley Institute. He is an “international expert on the social causes of illness, suicide and the development of effective, equitable health systems.” He is a Professor of Psychiatry at University of Toronto and Director of Health Equity at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

Onye Nnorom

Dr. Onye Nnorom is a family doctor and a Public Health & Preventive Medicine specialist. Dr. Nnorom completed her medical degree at McGill University and then completed a Masters of Public Health (Epidemiology) at the University of Toronto. She is the President of the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario and the host of the podcast ‘Race, Health and Happiness’ where she interviews successful Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color.

Isaac Odame

Dr. Isaac Odame is the Haematology Section Head in the Division of Haematology/Oncology and the Medical Director of the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network at the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). He is a Professor and Director of the Division of Adult and Paediatric Haematology in the Departments of Medicine and Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. He holds the Alexandra Yeo Chair in Hematology in the University of Toronto. His work with the Centre for Global Child Health is “building enduring collaborations between clinicians/scientists worldwide to further research and advance care of patients, particularly in low-income countries with heaviest disease burden.”

Ashleigh Rae-Thomas

Ashleigh Rae-Thomas is an Afro-Caribbean writer, facilitator, key-note speaker and community organizer from Toronto, by way of Jamaican roots. After graduating from the University of Guelph-Humber’s Media Studies and Communications, Ashleigh went on to be a participant in Bashy Magazines’ first inaugural writer incubator and the CFC x Black Women Film! Canada Writers Program. In her words, “I learned the importance of vaccines from talking to my grandmother. She told me how there was a smallpox outbreak in Jamaica when she was a child. If it were not for vaccines, she probably would have contracted and died from the highly contagious disease. I always admired her trust in vaccines for her children, since she had witnessed first hand the effects of an unvaccinated society.”

Dionne Sinclair

Dionne Sinclair is the Vice President of Clinical Care & Recovery and Chief Nurse Executive at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She is also a member of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) Black Nurses task force and an active member of the College of Nurses of Ontario’s Employer Reference Group. As a Certified Healthcare Executive (CHE), Dionne’s previous leadership roles include: Multi-Site Director, Diversity and Cultural Advancement at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital and Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket.

Candice Todd

Dr. Candice Todd is a naturopathic doctor with expertise in health promotion and disease prevention. She completed her Honors Bachelor of Health Sciences degree at the University of Western Ontario. From there she followed her passion for health by completing a four-year program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine to earn her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine diploma.

Nicole Welch

Nicole Welch is the Chief Nursing Officer and COVID-19 Liaison Director with Toronto Public Health. She is a Registered Nurse with a Master of Science Degree in Nursing from McGill University and is in the final stages of obtaining a PhD in Applied Psychology and Human Development from the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Trudeau Social Media Vaccine PR

Canadian News Mar 31, 2022

Trudeau Liberals paid over $600k to hire influencers to convince people to get vaxxed. For the year 2021, it has been determined that the federal government spent more than $600 thousand on social media influencers to “promote federal iniciatives,” chiefly the push for Canadians to get vaccinated.6)

Media Relations. (2021, February 3). Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity. City of Toronto.
COVID-19: City Immunization Strategies. (2021, January 18). City of Toronto.
Khenti, A. (2021). Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity c/o Taibu Community Health Centre. City of Toronto.
Our Clients. Brevitas. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from
Meet Our Team. Brevitas. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from