Active Research

Vaccine Provision for Remote Indigenous Communities in Ontario

University of Toronto

Achieving a high vaccination rate in remote Indigenous communities is essential to prevent outbreaks and reduce health inequalities. However, challenges exist for both vaccine provision and uptake. As part of the COVID-19 response in remote Northern Ontario communities, Operation Remote Immunity (ORI) was launched in February of 2021 to administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to fly-in communities in northern Ontario. This initiative was operated under the leadership of Indigenous-led organizations, with support from Public Health Units and Ornge, an Ontario-based non-profit that provides air-ambulance and medical transport services to fly-in communities. As of June 2021, ORI has delivered 25,000 doses of
COVID-19 vaccines to 31 remote First Nations communities.

This case study report will examine the program’s successful logistic execution, the evolution of ORI over three phases, the role of Indigenous leadership, the operationalization of a community-based approach, and trust-building with Indigenous communities.