GREY-BRUCE – The Oct. 22 meeting of the Grey Bruce Board of Health began with a special presentation to the former mayor of Kincardine and member of the Board of Health, Anne Eadie.
Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health (MOH), said the presentation was for “the great service she provided during the (COVID-19) emergency.” He commented on the important role played by the Davidson Centre in implementing the “hockey hub” mass vaccination model that has been copied by countries around the world and benefitted many people.
Eadie modestly commented on the “relatively small role” she played, and said the hockey hub at the Davidson Centre was a “wonderful example of creativity, collaboration and efficiency coming together.” She added, “It was amazing to see how everything came together… congratulations to everyone involved.”
Eadie said that “we’re in a much better place (regarding the pandemic), and vaccination hubs have been a big part of that.”
In his update to the board, Arra said, “We continue to have optimal control (over COVID) across Grey-Bruce and the province.”
He commented on provincial plans to gradually lift controls, especially on capacity limits.
Regarding third doses of vaccine, Arra said they’re being provided for those who are immunocompromised and in long-term care. The next group will be those aged 70 and over.
The other key group to receive vaccines will be children aged 5-11, with approval of the Pfizer vaccine for that age group. Clinics will be held in community centres across Grey-Bruce for children and adults 70-plus, in late November.
Board member Brian Milne asked why children weren’t being vaccinated in the schools, where they’d be a “captive audience.”
Arra said there are a number of reasons, including the fact it’s preferable to vaccinate both child and parent, and that can’t happen at a school.
In a departure from what’s become the norm over the past 18 months, Arra made a presentation to the board on a topic that isn’t COVID-related – the work of the environmental health and tobacco enforcement team.
This includes food safety inspections and training, safe water for drinking (466 small drinking water systems), safe water for recreation (some 200 facilities), healthy environments – mainly investigations, infectious and communicable diseases – rabies, and infectious and communicable diseases – vector borne (lyme disease), as well as tobacco enforcement, which focuses on education.
There was some discussion on rabies. Arra said that while Grey-Bruce has a high rate of dog bites, the number of cases of rabies is relatively low. He explained in response to a question that rabies is more prevalent in the southern part of the counties, and is primarily found in raccoons that migrate from the United States.
Chris Peabody, Brockton mayor, returned to the topic of COVID and asked why this area is 32nd out of 34 health units in the percentage of people vaccinated.
Arra responded by saying that while this area does have a lower vaccination rate than the provincial average, “the margin is very small.
He also responded to another question asked by Peabody by saying the decision hadn’t been made to require vaccination for sports participants aged 12-18 because it wasn’t needed. The control over COVID in this area has been very consistent, with no sports-related outbreaks.
“We were able to be less intrusive,” Arra said.
He also expressed the concern that if the local health unit insisted on vaccination for youngsters participating in sports, “it could backfire” by having their parents pull them from the sport.
“We’re monitoring it closely,” he added.
Peabody asked Arra if flu shots could be made available to board members through the health unit – a plan that received approval from other board members, who said it might encourage the public to get their own flu shots.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times