A push is on for vaccine uptake, as Baie Verte area has lowest rate amid growing COVID-19 cases

·3 min read
Dr. Monika Dutt, chief medical officer of health for the Central Health region, says the health authority is trying to bring COVID-19 vaccines closer to residents to encourage further uptake.  (Submitted by Monika Dutt - image credit)
Dr. Monika Dutt, chief medical officer of health for the Central Health region, says the health authority is trying to bring COVID-19 vaccines closer to residents to encourage further uptake. (Submitted by Monika Dutt - image credit)
Submitted by Monika Dutt
Submitted by Monika Dutt

The Baie Verte area of Newfoundland has the lowest completed vaccination rate on the island, an issue health officials are trying to understand as a COVID-19 cluster grows in the region.

The area has 42 COVID-19 cases connected to it as of Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Monika Dutt, chief medical officer of health for the Central Health region, told CBC News health officials are trying to figure out why two-dose vaccination numbers are significantly lower in the area.

Dutt said geography could be a factor, and Central Health is beginning to offer more vaccine clinics in light of new COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the area.

Vaccine clinics are now open in Baie Verte and La Scie. Additional clinics opened on Thursday in Middle Arm at the town hall, with another opening on Friday at the College of the North Atlantic campus in Baie Verte.

"We're trying to bring the vaccine as close to people as possible," Dutt said.

Dutt said there may also be people who are simply choosing not to get the vaccine, while adults under 40 may just be too busy, something Dutt said has been a consistent trend in other areas of the province.

CBC
CBC

Only 67 per cent of the eligible population in the Baie Verte area is fully vaccinated — the lowest on the island — according to data provided to CBC News by the Department of Health on Sept. 7.

As a whole, Newfoundland and Labrador has reached just over 79 per cent of the eligible population with two doses, with 87 per cent having at least one dose.

"We're still trying to look into that, to understand what people might know about the vaccine or what they may think about it, what has made them decide either not to get it or not think about it," said Dutt.

"It's definitely something that we're trying to understand better so that we can hopefully have more people be vaccinated."

Presumptive cases

On Wednesday Dr. Rosann Seviour, acting chief medical officer of health, confirmed community spread of COVID-19 in the Baie Verte area, attributing the outbreak to the coronavirus's delta variant. At least 10 cases have been identified at White Bay Retirement Living in Baie Verte.

As of midnight on Wednesday all towns and communities along routes 410 to 419 on the Baie Verte Peninsula moved to Alert Level 3 in an attempt to slow the spread.

Also on Wednesday, Seviour announced 15 new presumptive positive cases in the Central Health region. Presumptive positive cases need to be confirmed positive by public health workers before being added to the daily COVID-19 totals.

The Department of Health on Thursday issued a possible exposure advisory for parts of central Newfoundland, with the majority of sites in Corner Brook.

Elsewhere, Vale, a mining company currently operating the Voisey's Bay mine site in Labrador, issued an email to employees on Wednesday indicating there is a presumptive positive COVID-19 case at the work site. The company said the person arrived on Monday displaying no symptoms and participated in screening protocols. On Wednesday the person's COVID-19 test returned as presumptive positive.

Vale said the person continues to show no symptoms and is in self-isolation. A subsequent COVID-19 test followed and has been sent to public health to be confirmed.

The company said the risk of transmission is believed to be low and contact tracing is underway.

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