The announcement Friday that the province is accelerating second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine came as welcome news to the officials in Waterloo Region, which is seeing some improvement in what have been stagnant levels of infection.
The Ford government announced this morning it was aiming for a “two-dose” summer in a race to get Ontarians inoculated as soon as possible.
For public health officials, that means working out the logistics, notes Shirley Hilton, who heads the region’s vaccine distribution task force.
“The timing of second dose appointments will vary based on local considerations, vaccine supply and the date of the first dose appointment. The province did announce an anticipated schedule for eligibility for the shortened second doses, and, again, it’s all very dependent on confirmed supply, starting with the 80-plus [year-olds] to be eligible to book a shortened second dose appointment beginning May 31. Then followed by the 70-plus eligible to book a short dose appointment for the week of June 14. As this announcement was just made this morning, further details will be provided in the coming days as to how we will plan to book those appointments,” she said during Friday’s weekly pandemic update.
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“After some stagnation in our case rates, we have started to see improvements again,” added medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang of the overall trend in the fight against the virus.
“As of May 27, our weekly incidence rate is approximately 55 cases per 100,000 per week. improvement provincial rate is approximately 62 cases per 100,000 per week. We have 387 active cases and eight outbreaks. Taking into account interim data, our seven-day average is four per cent. Positivity is now at 5.3 per cent – Ontario’s is at 5.5 per cent,” said Wang, adding that public health measures need to be upheld.
“Things are moving in the right direction, but COVID continues to circulate in our community. We must keep practicing public health measures consistently and diligently as we continue to immunize more and more of our community in order to keep moving in the right direction.”
Since the start of the pandemic last year, the region has seen a total of 15, 796 cases of COVID-19 resulting in 256 fatalities.
Neighbouring Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph now has reached 7,844 cases of the virus reported and 114 deaths throughout the pandemic. According to medical officer of health Dr. Nicola Mercer, the odds of reaching a 75 per cent vaccination level for the first dosage in that area is slim due to lack of pre-registration/registration for an appointment.
For Waterloo Region, Wang believes that will not be the case.
“We still have a lot of demand, and it looks promising in terms of our ability to meet a lot of that demand.”