As the province prepares to implement its vaccine passport system this week, many local residents are getting on board with vaccination.
According to Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical officer of Health, approximately 200 people a day are receiving a vaccine dose across Chatham-Kent.
“I’m very pleased to report that since the province’s announcement of the vaccine certification program, many of these are first doses,” said Colby. “It tells me that people have finally said OK, I’ll get this done.”
He highlighted the Ontario Science Table has said the number of intensive care unit spots in the province could run out in October if the rate of COVID-19 transmission cannot be reduced and the vaccination rate is not accelerated. Recently, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance has announced full capacity at their intensive care beds.
Colby said while there has been a good uptake in vaccination recently because of the vaccine passport, he added Chatham-Kent is not out of the water yet. Last week the active COVID-19 cases hit a seven-month high last week in Chatham-Kent, which now has one of the lowest vaccination rates among Ontario’s 34 public health units.
According to the Ontario government, the proof of vaccination policy has resulted in a marked increase in vaccination rates. Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 8, the seven-day average for the first doses administered increased by more than 29 percent, from more than 11,400 doses to 14,700 doses. During that time, more than 90,000 first doses and 102,000 second doses were administered in Ontario to individuals aged 18 to 59.
Colby said that there has also been some increase in uptake locally, particularly for first doses, since the announcement of the provincial vaccination certificate program. However, he noted the percentage of the population 12 and up who have received at least one dose stands at 80 percent.
Across the province, the figure is 84 percent.
“I’d like to see that number higher,” said Colby, adding that the target is a 90 percent vaccination rate.
According to the latest provincial epidemiological report, the COVID-19 case rate for Chatham-Kent for the period between Sept. 4 and 10 is 102.2 per 100,000 people.
Windsor has the highest case rate in the province at 103.3, and Chatham-Kent is at number two. Hamilton has the third-highest rate at 57.1.
However, both Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent have vaccination rates lower than the province as a whole.
Colby said more than 142,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Chatham-Kent, with 73 percent of the population 12 and older being double-vaccinated and 80 percent having one dose.
He added that managing to get 70 percent of people double-vaccinated has helped handle the original COVID-19 strain in terms of herd immunity. However, he noted the Delta variant would require at least an 85 percent vaccination rate, and the current target is 90 percent of the population.
According to Colby, almost all of the new cases of COVID reported in Chatham-Kent are the “hyper-transmissible” Delta variant.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News