The city of Toronto has announced an official partnership with Vaccine Hunters Canada, an online organization of volunteers who help track down available COVID-19 vaccine appointments and spread the information via social media.
While the move will no doubt help more Canadians receive their shots—inarguably the most important takeaway here—it has also raised some concerns about the public health system’s capacity to manage the distribution and the city’s willingness to accept crucial assistance from unpaid volunteers.
The city announced the partnership on Wednesday, encouraging the public to immediately start using the tool and saying it is now working directly with the site’s management to keep info about city-run immunization clinics up to date.
“Our Team Toronto vaccination efforts involves the City and Toronto Public Health, hospitals, community healthcare partners, community organizations, pharmacies and doctors. This is a huge, all hands-on deck effort and Vaccine Hunters Canada have stepped up to help people get vaccinated and navigate the different registration systems,” said Mayor John Tory in a City press release. “We are excited to work with Vaccine Hunters to help get more people vaccinated.”
For some, however, Toronto’s official acceptance of assistance from a volunteer-run organization in this historic public health battle was too ironic not to comment on.
The driving forces behind Vaccine Hunters Canada, however, remain apolitical.
“We are honoured to be joining the city of Toronto’s efforts to get the city vaccinated,” said Joshua Kalpin, Vaccine Hunters Canada spokesperson. “Our motto is ‘neighbours helping neighbours, coast to coast’ and [we] are grateful to the tens of thousands of Canadians who have contributed to this campaign. We feel an urgent sense of duty to work together so we can protect the most vulnerable and rebuild our communities.”