COVID-19 poses 'significant risk' in the fall, Windsor-Essex top doctor says

·2 min read
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit office on Ouellette Avenue in Windsor is shown in a file photo. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit office on Ouellette Avenue in Windsor is shown in a file photo. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

As fall and the back-to-school season approach, the top doctor in Windsor-Essex says he's worried about the potential for a COVID-19 resurgence.

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, acting medical officer of health, said COVID-19 is unpredictable, but he sees a "significant risk."

"I am concerned about additional cases and additional outbreaks and moving forward in the fall," he said. He's also "concerned about the flu.

"We know we have to not only get people up to date on their COVID vaccines, but also on their influenza vaccines."

Nesathurai made the comments at a virtual media briefing Thursday morning.

He also worries not enough people are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.

The latest health unit data show just 11.9 per cent of people in the region have received a fourth dose, though that number would include many who are not yet eligible for boosters.

But the health unit says there has been progress on other vaccines.

Nicole Dupuis, the chief executive officer of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), said there's been a dramatic drop in the number of students who are either not caught up with mandatory childhood vaccinations or their records are not up to date.

Some vaccines, not including COVID-19 shots, are mandatory for students to attend school.

WECHU issued 7,858 suspension orders to students with incomplete immunization records, saying they have until Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. to update them.

No shortage of vaccines

Dupuis couldn't say exactly how many students' records are still not up to date, but said the health unit will continue to offer clinics through the end of September.

"We are very hopeful that we'll get to … our suspension date with zero students is suspended. That's the goal," she said.

She also addressed the supply of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine in the region, saying she has heard concerns surrounding access to the vaccine. She said there are no concerns with supply but fewer providers offering the vaccine compared with the shots for adults.

She encouraged those having trouble getting their children vaccinated to contact the health unit for help.

"If anyone is having difficulty, we would encourage them to go to our website or give us a call at the health unit and we'll definitely help them find a place."