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Sex worker support organization hosts low barrier vaccine clinic at Zanzibar Tavern

Last Updated Jun 5, 2021 at 7:06 am EDT

Maggie’s Toronto – one of Canada’s oldest by and for sex worker support organizations – hosted a vaccine clinic at the Zanzibar Tavern on Friday in partnership with Unity Health and Sherbourne Health.

The clinic administered first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and prioritized those who need access to the vaccine in a low barrier and surveillance-free setting. No appointment, identification, proof of address or OHIP card was required to get vaccinated.

The organization says the clinic is essential for the underserved sex worker community — a severely marginalized group that has been adversely affected by the pandemic and not prioritized for government relief.

Ellie Ade-Kur, one of the Maggie’s clinic organizers, said hosting the event at a strip club was strategic.

“It’s important for us to have the clinic at Zanzibar specifically because strip clubs and strippers have been very publicly targetted through the pandemic,” she said.

“One of the things we are really hoping to do today is just challenge the idea and that degrading narrative of strippers and sex workers as dirty and show that our organizations are deeply invested in public health and want to make sure that everyone gets access to the vaccine.”

Ade-Kur urged the City to stop issuing licencing fees to out of work strippers, and reimburse those who have paid them during the course of the pandemic.

“The idea really is to send a political message around the licening fees and working conditions and the criminalization of sex work in the city.”

In addition to the one-day clinic at Zanzibar, Maggie’s is also hosting private vaccine clinics for their community members.