Unvaccinated Torontonians are seven times more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated, the city's medical officer of health says.
Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Mayor John Tory gave a briefing on the latest COVID situation in the city Wednesday afternoon.
Mayor John Tory says 77.6 per cent of eligible Torontonians are now vaccinated against COVID-19 and 83.6 per cent have at least their first dose.
The city is now "laser focused" on getting that number up to 90 per cent, he said.
De Villa said 336,000 more people need to get fully vaccinated for the city to reach its 90 per cent target.
Of those, about 164,000 are people who are eligible to receive their second dose, she said.
De Villa said the aim was now to "drive up vaccination rates."
She said that according to data from Toronto Public Health, "case rates among unvaccinated individuals are approximately seven times higher than among those fully vaccinated."
Case counts in Toronto are now highest among the 20 to 29 age group, she said, and of those in ICU, 90 per cent were not fully vaccinated.
Vaccinations administered on Sept. 2 and 3 were the "highest we've seen in Toronto since July," she said. This may have been due to people returning to work, or as a reaction to the announcement on Sept. 1 of Ontario implementing a vaccine passport, she added.
Submissions of out-of-province vaccinations had also increased after passports were announced. According to TPH data from before the announcement, the average daily submission rate was about 200. In the two days following the provincial announcement, about 700 submissions were received each day — an increase of approximately 233 per cent.
Fall months will not be relaxed, MOH says
However, De Villa acknowledged that the fourth wave of the pandemic and the more contagious delta variant pose a challenge for the city in the months ahead.
"The fall months ahead of us will not be as relaxed as we might like," she said.
De Villa said people should reduce the number of people they interact with, wear masks if they cannot physically distance themselves, and move activities to outdoor areas or better ventilated indoor spaces.
"As yourself: is this something you need to do, or something you want to do?" she said.
Yesterday, vaccine clinics operated out of two TTC stations — Islington and Warden — with 50 per cent of people coming for their first dose.
Tory said there would be a "day of action" in the next two weeks to further "drive up vaccination rates and further our success."
"We must do this together," he said.
City staff return to work
Tory also said city staff who had been working remotely would make a 'gradual' return to work this week, and that return would "ramp up over the next several weeks."
Some city employees will work in the office, some will work remotely and some will be doing both, he said.
"These are good, positive steps forward for our city," he said.
De Villa said a recent survey on Torontonians had revealed there had been a decrease in vaccine hesitancy over the past six months.
She said 14 per cent of respondents are now considered vaccine hesitant, with six per cent stating they will definitely not get a vaccine and eight per cent saying they might in the future.
De Villa said this was a 17 per cent decrease in vaccine hesitancy since another survey conducted in March 2021.
Two-thirds of parents with children under the age of 12 say they are ready for their children to receive the vaccine when it becomes available, she said.
No punishments for protestors
Tory also warned people about "spreading misinformation" about the vaccines, which he called "deliberate and in some cases outrageous."
However, he said there was unlikely to be policies introduced to punish people for sharing disinformation or protesting against the vaccine, as "our options in this regard are limited."
He said the responsibility for this "rests with police and bylaw and enforcement officers" and the city could not direct how they dealt with this, but he had made his own views "known to the police chief."
He said Torontonians should continue to "call people out" for sharing disinformation.
Ontario reported another 554 cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths of people with the illness on Wednesday, the third day in a row with a daily case count of under 600. Of those cases, 149 were found in Toronto.
The province said that due to a "data clean-up," 11 of the deaths reported today had occurred within the last week, and five of the deaths happened more than two months ago.