As the Omicron wave continues to wane in Ontario, proof of vaccination requirements will decline with it. Effective March 1, residents will no longer have to show proof of vaccination in all indoor public settings, though individual businesses may choose to require proof of vaccination if they wish. Masks are still required.
“The government of Ontario moved to the next phase of its reopening plan, further easing public health measures, this is only possible because of the high vaccination rates and the sacrifices we have made to keep our community safe. COVID-19 vaccines remain the best defense against the virus,” said regional Chair Karen Redman February 18 at the weekly pandemic briefing.“Anyone 12 or older can receive a third dose to protect themselves or others around them. If we’re going to continue to do our part getting vaccinated, we can continue to move forward.”
The province last week announced that children aged 12 and older are now able to get booster shots six months after receiving a second dose.
“Vaccination remains our best defence for current or future variants. Better days are ahead due to so many in our community stepping up. Local indicators are showing that the Omicron wave continues to decline in Waterloo Region,” said medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang during the briefing.
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At midweek, the region reported 757 active cases of COVID-19, down from 903 a week earlier. Public health is monitoring outbreaks in 14 locations. There were 65 people hospitalized and 13 in ICU due to the virus. There have been 391 fatalities related to the virus since the pandemic began almost two years ago.
Of eligible residents, 88.3 per cent have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 84.6 per cent are fully vaccinated and 48.8 per cent have received a booster shot.
“Over 1.25 million COVID vaccine doses have been given in Waterloo Region. Our community has done an incredible job of stepping up and getting vaccinated,” said Vickie Murray, director of pharmacy for Grand River and St. Mary’s hospitals. “Our vaccination goals have been high and thankfully the community response has made them reachable.”
Even as the case numbers decline, Murray noted the region will continue to provide vaccinations in the community but with a different outreach model as the mass immunization clinics are no longer necessary, with fewer people coming in for a jab.
“We are coming down from the peak of the wave and restrictions are easing. Everyone will have a different comfort level with the removal of restrictions,” said Wang. “I ask all of us to be respectful and considerate of the comfort levels of others at this time. I continue to recommend that people resume their activities in a gradual manner.
“I also continue to recommend that residents get vaccinated, including your booster dose even if you’ve already been infected with Omicron. Getting a booster, even when you’ve already been infected, is expected to provide longer lasting protection against future variants. Besides getting vaccinated, please remember to stay at home if you are sick, continue wearing your mask and continue to be in well ventilated spaces and avoiding crowded places.”
As with the region, the number of cases has dropped in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, with 264 active cases, down from 383 seven days earlier. There have been 156 fatalities associated with the virus.
Public health there reports 90 per cent have received at least one dose, while 86.6 per cent of eligible residents have been fully inoculated, with 60.8 per cent having had a booster shot.