KAWARTHA LAKES: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) is stressing the urgency of having residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect themselves and others from the virus.
At a virtual press conference on Wednesday, July 21st, local medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking said the vaccination coverage in the area “is not as high as we (the health unit) would like it to be.”
Currently, the residents with the lowest level of vaccination in the health unit area are young adults aged 18 to 29.
“I think there’s a number of different theories, and certainly other health units across the province have looked into whether there are any specifics. So, I think for one group of people, it hasn’t really been a priority. It’s not that they don’t want to get vaccinated, but it’s not on the top of their list. If the vaccine access is not very easy, it doesn’t fit very well into regular day routines, [then] it’s just not a top priority. For those individuals, we are trying to make sure vaccine access is as easy and efficient as possible, and remind them of their role in contributing toward vaccination coverage as a population,” Dr. Bocking stated.
She also spoke about the indestructible feeling some young adults feel.
“I think there’s a group of young adults [who] feel COVID-19 doesn’t really affect them. They haven’t necessarily seen it among their circle of friends. They’re young, they’re healthy, and they think if they were to get COVID-19, it wouldn’t really impact them. I would encourage those individuals to get the vaccine for themselves because we do know, while it happens less often, there have been young adults [who] have become very seriously ill with COVID-19. But it also helps to protect their family and community in helping to prevent transmission of COVID-19.”
The health unit is seeing a link between those who haven’t had any doses of COVID-19 vaccine and active COVID-19 cases.
“The age group with the highest number of cases is aged 20 to 29. Certainly, what we are starting to see across the province is the majority of newly identified cases continue to be among individuals [who] are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated. Hence the continued focus and sense of urgency in continuing to promote vaccinations as we look towards the fall, we look towards cooler weather, and people moving indoors and wanting to prevent a resurgence of [COVID-19],” Dr. Bocking explained.
There remains a lot of misinformation online about the COVID-19 vaccines.
“We try to share information through multiple avenues. So, whether it is through social media, whether it’s through more traditional media sources, there’s lots of good material and videos made by not just our health unit but other health units[and] by Public Health Ontario and Public Health Agency of Canada. I’d encourage individuals, when they’re reading posts, to look at what the source of the post is and to follow sites [which] are evidence-based [and] evidence-informed,” Dr. Bocking said.
Dan Cearns, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Standard Newspaper