As the province moves into step three of its reopening framework, Public Health Sudbury and Districts is launching an area-wide challenge to ‘aim high and stay low.’
“This means getting vaccination rates as high as possible and keeping COVID-19 cases as low as possible,” the health unit said in a release on Friday.
“The path forward out of step three requires low case counts and immunization rates for Ontarians aged 12 and over of at least 80 per cent for one dose and 75 per cent for two doses. No public health unit can have a two-dose rate lower than 70 per cent.”
The rates for Public Health Sudbury and Districts are currently at 79 per cent for one dose and 60.9 per cent for two doses.
In light of the more infectious Delta variant spreading in Ontario, Public Health is launching a challenge to help the province move even further.
The goal is to aim for 90 per cent of those aged 12 and older to be fully vaccinated.
“We are issuing a call to everyone who still needs a first dose and all those whose second doses are due,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe.
“What are you waiting for?”
Dr. Sutcliffe is urging residents to book their vaccine appointments now or show up at one of the walk-in, pop-up or mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the region.
“We are so fortunate that vaccine supply is no longer an issue. We are tracking to have enough vaccine to offer two doses to every eligible individual in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts by the end of August,” she said.
“And if you have your two doses already – great news – you can still help by talking to family, friends, and neighbours about their motivation for vaccination.”
While local vaccination rates have reduced the number of new cases being reported, the virus still poses a threat.
The Delta variant is the most common virus strain circulating in Ontario. It is more transmissible and causes more serious disease. The vaccine is also less effective against this variant, requiring two doses for a protective immune response.
“Because the Delta variant of the virus is more transmissible, vaccination rates need to be as high as possible,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.
“High rates of vaccination mean that we will be less dependent on other measures to keep us safe, such as distancing, masking, and limits in our favourite stores, movie theatres, gyms, and restaurants. The recent surges in cases in the Waterloo and Grey Bruce regions are reminders of how quickly things can change.”
There are certain populations – based on medical conditions or age, for example – who are unable to get vaccinated or who will not be fully protected if they are.
The health unit reminds everyone that it is up to those of us who can be vaccinated to protect others.
“The provincial online booking system for COVID-19 vaccination automatically books a second dose appointment 112 days (16 weeks) after the first dose,” the health unit said.
“This second dose appointment is not valid. Individuals must book their second dose appointments after receiving their first dose. There is enough vaccine to mean that the 112-day wait for the second dose is no longer needed.”
Over the coming weeks, public health will notify clients of the cancellation for their original 112-day, automatically scheduled second dose appointment. This notice will be by email and robocall.
Individuals must book their second dose appointment after receiving their first dose – it cannot be done before getting the first dose.
Visit www.covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine or call 750-674-2299 to book an appointment.
The original appointment will be cancelled.
Anyone aged 12 and older can attend a pop-up, walk-in, or mobile clinic with no appointment to receive their second dose at a minimum of 21 days after their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine or a minimum of 28 days for the Moderna vaccine.
For the most up-to-date vaccination opportunities offered by public health in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts, visit www.phsd.ca/COVID-19/vaccine-clinics.
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Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star