The COVID-19 vaccination rates in Chatham-Kent lag behind the provincial averages for most age groups. They are well behind in the youngest categories, leading to a disappointed Medical officer of Health.
“We are one of the lowest vaccination jurisdictions in the province,” said Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health
Colby said he was sure residents would hit a collective home run with their vaccine uptake. He added he is disappointed at how many refuse to step up to the plate.
“If you’d asked me in the beginning, I would have said, ‘Once we get the vaccine, the people of Chatham-Kent will step up to the plate just like they always do and hit the ball out of the park. We’re going to see really high vaccination rates here.’ I do not understand.”
In Ontario, adults aged 18+ have an 81.21 percent first-dose coverage rate and a full vaccination rate of 69.73 percent. By comparison, in Chatham-Kent, adults aged 18+ have a 77 percent first-dose coverage rate and a full vaccination rate of 67 percent.
Locally, 52 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have received at least one dose, and 33 percent have received two, while the provincial averages are 65.2 percent and 43.4 percent, respectively.
The relative rates are even worse for 18- to 29-year-olds in Chatham-Kent, where 55 percent have at least one dose, and 40 percent have two. The provincial averages are 70.8 percent and 52.9 percent, respectively.
Despite a slow race to get vaccinated, Colby said he’s confident the community will meet the vaccination target to move out of Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan.
“We are making it easy and convenient for people to get their kids vaccinated,” said Colby. “We’ve done pop-up clinics; appointments are no longer required to get a vaccine at the Bradley Centre, and we will continue all of these measures as well as any others in order to increase vaccinations.”
Colby said it’s now getting to a point where it’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
He also pointed out Chatham-Kent residents united in 2010 to win an online vote for the most coveted spot on the Canadian version of Monopoly.
“I don’t know how a community that comes together, a small community that could outcompete all of the other communities in Canada and get Boardwalk on the Monopoly board, can turn in with such a dismal response to getting vaccinated,” said Colby. “Why we haven’t seen this robust response like we usually do in Chatham-Kent is a real mystery.”
According to Premier Doug Ford, the province needs to reach its goal of vaccinating 80 percent of eligible residents with one dose and 75 percent with two to permit Ontarians to move out of Step 3. Ford said the province is close to reaching its vaccination goal.
On August 5th, CK Public Health will be hosting a community-wide celebration to highlight the municipality’s vaccination rates and encourage those needing a vaccine to get vaccinated.
Residents who are vaccinated are being asked to share their reason online or by posting a photo using the hashtag #TwoDoseSummerCK on social media.
Residents who are not fully vaccinated are being invited to complete their vaccination by attending a walk-in clinic or booking an appointment before or on August 5.
“Time is running out for unvaccinated members of our community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before the school year starts,” said Colby.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News