Dr. Dan Houpt lives near a graveyard in Douro-Dummer Township. When he looks at the tombstones, he sees the number of lives lost to diseases like smallpox, measles, rubella, typhoid and typhus from years gone by.
Yet Houpt has rarely seen any of these diseases — some of them never — during his 25 years practising medicine.
“Why?,” he asks. “Well, there’s hygiene, but it’s also because we’re lucky enough to have vaccines.”
Houpt, of the Morton Community Healthcare Centre near Lakefield in Douro-Dummer Township, along with Dr. Brendan Hughes, another Peterborough County doctor, have each made videos imploring residents of the county to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
In these videos, the physicians explain in urgent messages why they believe in the vaccine for all age groups and highlight the benefit for the whole community.
“Peterborough County is below the targets needed to help ensure a successful end to this pandemic,” said Hughes, of the Morton Community Healthcare Centre in Douro-Dummer, Lakefield Extendicare, Pleasant Meadow Manor in Norwood and who is on-call for the Peterborough Regional Health Centre, in his video.
“We are below the provincial average and Peterborough City rates. I believe it is now time for the county to step up to the plate in a bigger way.”
At the end of August, the county had a vaccination rate in its total population of 73 per cent for first doses and 66 per cent for second doses — below both the provincial average and Peterborough city average. It’s aiming for targets of 80 per cent for the first shot and 75 per cent for the second shot before it considers ending its emergency declaration.
“Right now, we are seeing a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Houpt said. “My entire family has been vaccinated, both shots. If I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t recommend it.
“The problem in Peterborough County is the numbers are too low. They’re down below the levels we need for herd immunity and that means there’s an awful lot of vulnerable people that if they get exposed they will get sick.
“The only way we’re going to get through this is if enough people get vaccinated.”
Hughes says unvaccinated people might survive the virus, but they might also carry it to someone who is more vulnerable who may not survive.
“I ask you please do the right thing for the greater good. Why not do a public service to help protect the vulnerable around you in this community? You can personally make a difference,” he said.
County Deputy Warden Andy Mitchell, the mayor of Selwyn Township and chair of the Peterborough board of health, stated in a press release that the county continues to work with Peterborough Public Health to offer walk-in vaccine clinics throughout the county and city. Many pharmacies are offering vaccines as well.
“We encourage you to get your shots. Yes, it hurts a little, you might feel a little off for a day or two,” said Warden J. Murray Jones.
“There is so much misinformation out there, if you are hesitant, talk to your doctor, your pharmacist or your health-care provider. Get the right facts. Let’s get back to normal, we can do it. After all, we are in this together.”
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner