A group of medical leaders in Windsor-Essex is urging the community to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent a "devastating" fourth wave.
"This is a critical time in our fight against COVID-19. If we as a community grow complacent, the risk of further health, social well-being, and economic impacts could be grave," the letter released Wednesday states.
The group was led by Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the southwestern Ontario region, and the letter was signed by the president of the Essex County Medical Society, and the chiefs of staff at Windsor Regional Hospital, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Erie Shores HealthCare.
Vaccination rates are plateauing with the start of the school year just over a month away. The letter echoes recent concerns by Ahmed over spread of COVID-19 variants that are fuelling a resurgence of the pandemic in countries such as the U.K. and the U.S.
"Those who are not vaccinated contribute to the majority of the cases and they are at the greatest risk of contracting the virus, experiencing life-threatening complications, and spreading the virus to others," the letter states. "In this race to avoid another local wave of COVID-19 infections, we need everyone to do their part as quickly as possible."
Currently, 77.2 per cent of adults in Windsor-Essex are vaccinated with at least one dose and 67.2 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The vaccination rate is the lowest among youth, at 55.1 per cent. Across the province, however, the portion of fully vaccinated people in that age group is nearly 10 percentage points higher, at 64.9 per cent.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) has made vaccinations more accessible in hopes of increasing uptake. Pop-up clinics have been scheduled in some areas, and all five COVID-19 mass vaccination sites are accepting walk-ins.
5 new cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex
WECHU reported five new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, but the overall case total only grew by two due to a review of past cases and clean-up of the data.
Twenty-three cases are considered active and there are no COVID-19 patients in hospital.
One outbreak is ongoing, at an agriculture workplace in Kingsville.
In Sarnia-Lambton, the health unit reported four new cases, bringing the active case count to six.
Chatham-Kent Public Health reported two new cases, and 14 are active in total.