Chatham-Kent Public Health officials are redoubling their efforts to reach everyone in the municipality with the COVID-vaccine.
Monday saw the unit open a walk-in clinic for those who haven’t had a first dose, even providing free shuttles from various locations, including Wallaceburg.
Yet, even while local officials have had great success in the Chatham-Kent vaccination effort so far, the municipality’s Medical Officer of Health said there’s much more to be done.
Dr. David Colby said that along with administering second doses, public health is setting its sights on vaccinating youth between the ages of 12 to 17.
Calling it a “major priority target for right now,” Colby said, immunizing students with two doses of vaccine before the start of the new school year is the goal.
As of Tuesday morning, there were four active cases of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent.
A total of 94,227 doses of vaccine have been administered in the municipality to date, with 30,032 of those being second doses.
While vaccine hesitancy is a problem in other jurisdictions, there is only a small percentage of local residents who are refusing the vaccine.
“The uptake is very good in Chatham-Kent,” Colby explained at a municipal press conference last week.
“We’re not seeing the reluctance. We will keep pressing on to see where it (the number of people vaccinated) plateaus.”
Colby said there will always be “holdouts” – a certain percentage of people who won’t take the shot because they are ideologically opposed.
He said people should look to the science, especially in light of the rising number of cases of the Delta variant, which is more dangerous and transmissible.
Colby said vaccines have been able to control disease and even eradicate terrible illnesses such as smallpox.
“There’s very low risk with the vaccine compared to the risks of COVID-19,” Colby said. “Let’s get this done.”
Other regions have reported issues with vaccine shopping, whereby people refuse a certain brand of the vaccine.
Colby said it is safe to mix and match vaccines, adding people need to be open to getting a different vaccine.
He compared getting the Pfizer or Moderna shots to choosing to ride in a “Chevy or Ford.
“We need to be open to getting a different brand,” he said. “Both are excellent vaccines.”
And even though the province is to move into step two of its reopening plan June 30, Colby said people must continue to practice caution and follow safety protocols.
Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice