COVID-19 in Toronto Neighborhoods: How Postal Code Data Highlights Vaccine Inequalities

When it comes to accessing COVID-19 vaccines in Toronto, recently released data seems to reinforce how where you live can be a major difference factor.

According to data collected by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), a nonprofit that collects Ontario health data for public policy purposes, between December 14 and March 28 and disaggregated by zip code, vaccination rates between some neighborhoods can be separated by up to 400%.

For example, data showed that only 5.5% of all residents of the M3N postal code (the Jane and Finch and Black Creek neighborhoods) received at least one of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, up from 22.4% of all residents of M4T. zip code (Moore Park neighborhood, just north of Rosedale).

Among those in the M3N postal code, 41 percent of residents 80 and older have been vaccinated and 12.2 percent of those 70 to 79 have been vaccinated. In the M4T zip code, 71.1% of residents 80 and older have been vaccinated and 54.1% of those 70 to 79 have been vaccinated.

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However, when it comes to totals of confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, comparing the data paints a clearer picture.

In the M3N postal code, 6.94 out of 100 people had COVID-19 and 5.06 out of 1,000 people were either hospitalized and / or died from COVID-19. In the M4T postal code, 1.09 in 100 people had COVID-19 and 0.52 in 1,000 people were either hospitalized and / or died from COVID-19.

When it comes to the demographics of each region, the differences show two contrasting stories.

According to a 2016 City of Toronto profile for the Moore Park and Rosedale neighborhoods, the combined population was 20,923, the median household income is $ 106,740, and 24.1% of the population was 65 and over . As of March 29, about 77.1% of residents aged 80 and over had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

A profile of the Black Creek neighborhood (M3N zip code overlaps multiple neighborhoods) showed the population to be 21,737, the median household income is $ 46,580, and 12.6% of the population was 65 and over. As of March 29, only 41% of residents aged 80 and over had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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The data compiled by ICES was compiled primarily during much of the first phase of the Ontario government’s immunization strategy, which prioritized frontline health workers, residents and home staff. long-term care and retirement care, Indigenous adults and chronic home care recipients. .

Laura Rosella, an ICES scientist, told Global News that she and others have analyzed the statistics in real time in an effort to help “change our response.” She said the group receives data on COVID-19 and immunization from various health sources and categorizes that data based on where people live.

Rosella said two main things stood out for her after taking a high profile look at Toronto. She noted that the city, as well as the Region of Peel, have particularly seen higher incidences of COVID-19 with lower vaccination rates.

“Most important is the extent of the variation (in cases and vaccinations),” she said, noting that similar problems have been seen in the United States.

“We just thought that in Canada (with) the universal health care system, we are going to do better, but we see the same story.

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“We almost have to assume up front that there are going to be disparities and instead of just rolling out a program, we have to think about how we’re going to put the extra effort in the places that need it most – like from the start as opposed to react.

The second area of ​​concern revolved around workplaces and worker protection, noting that these settings are a “really, really critical” environment to promote and deliver immunizations.

Using the aggregate data and examples cited above, Rosella said some demographic differences did not take vaccination rates into account.

“It’s not just the age differences in different regions that explain the different vaccination rates. Even if we only look at the over-80s group, we see that the areas that have fewer cases of COVID actually have a higher vaccination rate, ”she said.

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Rosella went on to say that access issues such as appointment scheduling issues, vaccine reluctance, lack of transportation, opening hours of vaccine distribution locations, and community outreach are all factors explaining variations in vaccinations.

“It’s hard to boil down to just one thing. There are a lot of things… that are attributed to these differences, ”she said.

“You can’t choose one. They probably all play a role.

While some zip codes have larger non-residential uses, there could be differences in vaccination rates, Rosella said there are still big gaps.

“There should be a five or 10 percent difference here and there, but there shouldn’t be a 20 percent difference (among residents 80 and over),” she said.

“This difference … there is no age or land use that would explain such a big difference.”

Rosella said it was great to see the Ontario government recently take action to tackle areas where cases are skyrocketing, she said wide variations in cases and hospitalizations have observed throughout the pandemic.

“I want to be optimistic that the changes that are going to be made will be enough, but I think we are still going to see variations,” she explained.

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“I think there are structural factors in these areas and issues around paid sick leave and other issues that aren’t going to go away, and that’s always going to create a problem.”

Global News reached out to the office of Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott on Wednesday afternoon to ask about the ICES data, but no response was received at the time of publication. .

Meanwhile, the Ontario government officially announced on Wednesday afternoon that it was imposing a stay-at-home order in response to the spread of the COVID-19 variant and the limited capacity of intensive care units.

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Officials said they plan to start vaccinating people 18 and older living in areas with high COVID-19 cases, including teachers and essential workers.

Premier Doug Ford said mobile teams will deliver vaccines to assembly places, residential buildings, church centers and spaces occupied by large employers in areas hard hit by the virus

Regions will be selected based on modes of transmission, serious illnesses and mortality from COVID-19.

The provincial government reported 3,215 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 other virus-related deaths on Wednesday.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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A closer look at ICES data based on Toronto postal codes (first three characters)

Areas with the lowest COVID-19 cases per 100 people (all ages) – M5J (Harbourfront and Toronto Islands, 0.95 percent), M5G (portion of downtown Toronto, 1.01 percent), M4E (portion of beaches, 1.05 percent), M4T (Moore Park , 1.09 percent), M3B (part of Bridle Path and Don Mills, 1.14%)
Areas with the highest COVID-19 cases per 100 people (all ages) – M3N (Black Creek and Jane and Finch, 6.94%), M3L (Jane and Sheppard region, 6.68%), M9V (Mount Olive, Jamestown and Thistletown, 6.64%), M9M (Humbermede and Pelmo Park-Humberlea, 6.6 percent), M9L (Humber Summit, 6.41 percent)
Areas with the lowest COVID-19 hospitalizations and / or deaths per 1,000 people (all ages) – M5J (0.17), M4R (part of Lawrence Park South and Lytton Park, 0.22), M2P (part of Hoggs Hollow, York Mills and St. Andrews, 0.34), M4P (part of Midtown Toronto, 0.43), M4E (0.46)
Areas with the highest COVID-19 hospitalizations and / or deaths per 1,000 people (all ages) – M6L (part of Maple Leaf and Rustic, 5.10), M3N (5.06), M9N (Pelmo Park-Humberlea, 4.05), M4H (Thorncliffe Park, 3.81), M3L (3.77)

The above statistics are cumulative incidences between December 14 and March 28.

Ontario Government Designated Hot Spot Communities

Here is the Government of Ontario’s list of designated hot spot communities in Toronto based on COVID-19 cases and sorted by postal codes (first three characters) as of April 6:

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  • Toronto: M1B, M1C, M1E, M1G, M1H, M1J, M1K, M1L, M1M, M1P, M1R, M1S, M1T, M1V, M1W, M1X, M2J, M2M, M2R, M3A, M3C, M3H, M3J, M3K, M3M , M3N, M4A, M4H, M4X, M5A, M5B, M5N, M5V, M6A, M6B, M6E, M6H, M6K, M6L, M6M, M6N, M8V, M9A, M9B, M9C, M9L, M9M, M9NV, M9R , M9W

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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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