Editor's note: This story was first published on Monday, July 12th. This version corrects the headline.
More than half of Chatham-Kent’s adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Chatham-Kent public health unit reported July 10 that 51 per cent of residents 18 and older have received two doses of vaccine and 75 per cent have received at least one dose. In addition, 47 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds have received at least one dose.
According to Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, despite Chatham-Kent having done a great job with vaccinations, it is important residents continue to roll up their sleeves.
“There are still people who are vaccine hesitant, despite all of the evidence of how well it works,” said Colby. “I think we just need to continue to demonstrate that vaccination is doing a wonderful job at protecting the people of Chatham-Kent and Ontario and Canada and hopefully the world.”
As of July 10, more than 110,200 doses have been administered in Chatham-Kent, with 67,854 residents 12 and older receiving at least one dose and 44,685 residents 12 and older receiving two.
Colby said the job is not done and we are not out of the woods yet, even though the province will be moving to Step 3 of the Reopening Roadmap on July 16.
The region’s top doctor said removing barriers to make getting vaccinated easier is crucial.
“We try our best to remove any barriers that exist to get people vaccinated,” Colby said about walk-in clinics. “We really are pulling out all the stops to make it easy for everybody to be vaccinated.”
According to Colby, the soaring number of active COVID-19 cases in the Grey Bruce health unit should serve as a warning that the pandemic is not over.
Colby urges Chatham-Kent residents to get vaccinated to avoid a situation similar to Grey Bruce, which has 187 active cases, after its total increased almost five times in a 10-day span.
“This can happen at any point,” said Colby. “The Delta variant, which is what they’re having there, is extremely contagious. “It’s a new ball game with the Delta variant. It’s so much more transmissible.”
He said there’s no confirmed cases of the Delta variant in the area yet but there are some cases being tested to determine if they are the highly transmissible variant.
“I don’t have any confirmed Delta yet but I have some that I’m treating as suspicious,” said Colby.
According to Colby, the Delta variant’s impact in Grey Bruce shows the need to be vaccinated. He also shared the advice of Dr. Peter Juni, the director of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table.
“He basically said we have two choices now: get vaccinated or get Delta,” said Colby.
Colby said he’s optimistic that the COVID-19 vaccines will work well against the virus to protect the public from getting sick.
“Vaccination remains very protective. It’s interesting that it’s newsworthy when someone who is fully vaccinated actually gets infected. Having two vaccines is very protective against infection,” said Colby.
The doctor noted it’s difficult to predict how well the vaccines will work to protect people from new, up-and-coming dominant variants.
“The viruses that were likely to see arising are going to the ones that find it easy to jump from one person to another,” said Colby. “On the other side of that coin, if the virus kills its host, like wrecking your own house, that’s a dead-end for a virus. Viruses not only tend to evolve to be more transmissible but also tend to evolve to be less deadly.”
The local health unit also reported that almost half of the adult population in Chatham-Kent are fully vaccinated. It is estimated that 49 per cent of those 18 and older have received two doses and 74 per cent of that group have one dose. Local public health officials said 47 per cent of the area’s youth 12-17 have gotten at least one shot.
Dr. Colby said the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases in Chatham-Kent have been people who have not been vaccinated.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News