Immigration and immunization

Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 2:39pm

By Margaret Angus
Jacques Palangwa moved to Halifax from the Congo, Africa, four months ago. The move comes with adjustments, including having to prepare for his first winter in Canada - and his first flu season.
 
That’s why, on Nov. 29, Palangwa was one of many patients at the flu shot clinic held by Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS). Jacques says he would not have gotten his flu shot if it weren’t for the clinic at ISIS, and he’s glad to have had the opportunity. “It will help me to avoid getting sick,” he says.
 
More than 250 new immigrants took advantage of the one-day clinic at ISIS to get their flu shots. This is the fifth year for the clinic, a partnership between ISIS and Public Health.
 
ISIS provides a range of services for new immigrants, including English language training, skills building workshops and employment support.
 
“ISIS is home base for new immigrants,” says Joan Mikkelsen, Public Health nurse. “People are comfortable with the building. Many take English classes here in the same classrooms where we’re giving immunizations. The staff of ISIS are incredible. They set up the clinic. They provide food and drinks. We just show up to immunize!”

On clinic day, ISIS was bustling with people, including many families. ISIS and Public Health planned the clinic to coincide with the school board’s professional development day, making it easy for parents to attend with their children.
 
More than half of the clients attending the clinic took advantage of interpreters hired for the day. In the background one could hear a mingling of languages - Nepali, Spanish, French and Arabic, among others.
 
Mikkelsen said the Public Health nurses who attended the ISIS clinic loved the opportunity.
 
“It’s great to be around the kids, the families. It’s just a fun day.”