CORNWALL – Two dose vaccinations protect against COVID-19 variants is the message from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. The problem for the health unit is second dose vaccinations in people under 30 are trailing older demographics, even with increased supply.
“We need to increase that,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the EOHU. “We are urging people in that age group to get vaccinated. The quicker we get to a very high number across the board of second doses, the better it will be as we reopen.”
First dose vaccinations are at 54.4 per cent of people age 18-29 in the region, compared to 71 per cent for people age 30-39. In comparison, 52.1 per cent of youth age 12-17 have received their first vaccine dose. Only 12.6 per cent of people in that same 18-29 demographic have also had their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Roumeliotis urged everyone to get vaccinated to complete the “two-dose” summer saying that the health unit is offering more clinics, even pop-up clinics, to get vaccines into arms. He said his goal is to double the number of second dose vaccinations in July.
Some changes from the provincial government have made getting vaccinated earlier easier. Youth age 12-17 can reschedule their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine earlier than the original 12-week spacing. And if a youth in that age group has not received a first dose, they can walk into any EOHU-run clinic and get vaccinated – no appointment needed.
When asked by The Leader, Roumeliotis said that the health unit isn’t seeing any noticeable vaccine hesitancy, or that people are deciding to delay their second dose because of the change from Pfizer to Moderna at most clinics. Pfizer is currently being reserved for youth age 12-17 as it is the only approved vaccine for that group.
For anyone who is feeling uncertain or any anxiety over mixing vaccines, Roumeliotis said that getting vaccinated is still important.
“It’s better to get vaccinated than not get vaccinated,” he said adding that if people are worried about mixing doses, they should contact their primary health care provider.
“It shouldn’t be a barrier to getting fully protected,” he said.
By July 6, Roumeliotis expected that the EOHU region would exceed the 200,000 dose mark. That includes vaccines distributed by the health unit, primary care physicians, pharmacies, and other sources. About 140,000 of those are first doses, 60,000 second dose.
On the provincial numbers, which have averaged 200 new cases per day, Roumeliotis characterized the numbers as “pretty stable.”
Locally, there is one active case of COVID-19 in the EOHU region, located in South Dundas. That case was diagnosed on July 2. All other municipalities as of publication time have no active COVID-19 infections. There are no hospitalizations or outbreaks in any facilities.
In the past week, the region saw its 111th fatality, a person in their 40s. Roumeliotis pointed to the last three fatalities, all individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine dose.
More vaccination clinics are being added weekly by the EOHU to continue the pace of first and second dose intake.
The next clinic for Morrisburg is not scheduled until August 12. Doses are available at the main EOHU clinics in Winchester and Cornwall for the region.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader