The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) says it's prepared to start administering second doses when the province gives the green light.
"We're ready to do second doses," WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette said. "We think we have the capacity and the ability to move forward."
Marentette made the comments at a briefing on Friday morning, just before the province announced it would be accelerating the rollout for second doses, which were previously scheduled for a four-month interval.
Under that plan, those aged 80 and older will be the first group able to book an accelerated appointment for a second shot starting the week of May 31. It will then expand to those 70 and above in mid-June.
After that point, the province will shift to a "first-in, first-out" strategy, in which Ontarians will be able to book an appointment for their second dose depending on when they had a first.
The health unit has already implemented a wait list for second doses for those 70 and older who had their first dose before March 31, 2021.
The local public health unit, which uses a different vaccine booking system than the province, has not yet confirmed when exactly seniors will be eligible to book their second shots.
Meanwhile, the region has seen its COVID-19 case rate decrease significantly in the last week, as the vaccination rate among adults approaches 70 per cent.
According to Ramsey D'Souza, manager of epidemiology with WECHU, the most recent seven-day case rate for COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex is 46.8 cases per 100,000 people compared with 65.1 recorded from the previous period.
"Things are improving," D'souza said, pointing to several factors including the vaccine coverage rate and good compliance with public health measures.
250 active cases
The health unit announced 24 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, and in total 250 cases are active.
About 3,700 people per day are getting vaccinated locally.
In total, 238,424 local residents have received at least one dose since the vaccine rollout began in December, representing 69.2 per cent of adults.
Anyone 12 and older is currently eligible, and appointments can be booked through the health unit's website or by phone.
Among the new cases announced Friday, 14 were close contacts of confirmed cases, four cases were community acquired and six were under investigation.
Eighteen people who tested positive for COVID-19 were in hospital, including five in intensive care.
There are 11 outbreaks ongoing throughout the region. An outbreak at Southwest Detention Centre has been in outbreak for more than a month.
There are also 10 active outbreaks at workplaces in Windsor-Essex:
One in Kingsville's agriculture sector.
Four in Windsor's health-care and social assistance sector.
One in Lakeshore's health-care and social assistance sector.
One in Windsor's manufacturing sector.
One in Tecumseh's manufacturing sector.
One in Lakeshore's finance and insurance sector.
One in Windsor's food and beverage sector.
Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton
Lambton Public Health reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Overall, 39 cases are active, along with two outbreaks.
Chatham-Kent health officials reported two new cases, and the active case count stands at 14.