Haldimand-Norfolk’s efforts to boost its province-worst COVID-19 vaccination rate got some help from an unlikely source.
Due to a mapping mixup by the province, roughly 8,400 vaccinated Haldimand-Norfolk residents living on the border of Brant County were mistakenly counted among the Brant County Health Unit’s tally.
Once that mistake is fully corrected, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit epidemiologist Kate Bishop-Williams expects the local vaccine rate to rise by 3.7 to four per cent.
“There were two postal codes that were incorrectly mapped at the provincial level, and therefore the COVaxON web-based platform for vaccine coverage assigned addresses in that community to the incorrect health unit,” Bishop-Williams explained.
The mislabeled postal codes are N0E 1V0 — which includes the communities of Teeterville and Vanessa — and N0A 1H0, which includes Hagersville and Springvale.
Bishop-Williams said once the mistake was discovered, health unit staff “meticulously checked” 10,500 vaccination records from the two postal codes — which straddle the two health units — to determine whether residents should be assigned to Haldimand-Norfolk or Brant.
“At this time, the task is slightly more than half completed and the increase in coverage rates appears to be about 2.5 to three per cent so far,” Bishop-Williams told The Spectator on Wednesday.
This data cleanup, plus an uptick in vaccine appointments following the announcement of the province’s plan for vaccine passports, has pushed Haldimand-Norfolk’s immunization numbers up.
“We have found over the last week or so that our rates of first doses are increasing. We’ve had far more at both our hospital sites and our community-based clinics and pop-ups,” said Norfolk EMS Chief Sarah Page, who leads the vaccine rollout.
As of Wednesday, 72.3 per cent of residents over 12 were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 78.5 per cent having received at least one dose.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator