CORNWALL – Having met the vaccination goals set out by the provincial government, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is now aiming to get more needles in arms with a new goal – 90 per cent.
Late last week, the EOHU officially hit the 75 per cent mark of second dose vaccinations in people 12 years old or older. This provincial goal, along with 80 per cent or higher for first dose vaccinations in the same demographic, is a requirement before more public health measures move beyond Ontario’s Three Step reopening plan.
As COVID-19 cases increase in the province, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore paused going beyond Step Three due to concerns over the Delta variant.
That being said, EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis stated that while vaccinations have hit the level mandated by the province, he wants to go even higher.
“We know that the modelling starts to show herd immunity at levels above 85 per cent,” he said. “Our first immediate goal is to go up to 155,550 people and we’re 5,000 doses away from that.” He went on to say that the ultimate goal or “cushion” is a 90 per cent vaccination rate for people age 12 and older.
For youth vaccinations, Roumeliotis said he has seen a further up-tick in youth under 18 getting vaccinated and now two-thirds have had at least one dose and over 50 per cent are two-dose vaccinated.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will be a bit different after August 27 as that is the last day for the health unit’s mass immunization sites. Many of the locations are in hockey arenas and now with the large number of vaccinations already completed, the EOHU is shifting its outreach to more pop-up clinics, in-office vaccinations, and through planned school-based clinics. Vaccines are also available through many local pharmacies in the region, and at primary care facilities.
According to local health unit data, nearly 289,000 doses of vaccines have been given in the region since vaccinations first began in January this year.
Over the weekend, the EOHU region added six new cases, all in Prescott-Russell County. As of the August 23 update, there are 16 active COVID-19 infections in the region and one person is currently hospitalized in intensive care.
Roumeliotis pointed out that 13 out of the 16 active cases in the region are people who are either partially or un-vaccinated. He did not specify how many of those infected were unable to get vaccinated but did say that the one ICU case was someone who did not get vaccinated as well. There are two active cases in Cornwall and in South Stormont, along with three in the northern portion of Akwesasne.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader