First dose COVID-19 vaccination rates are on the rise locally.

That from Dr. Jim Chirico, our region’s Medical Officer of Health.

“I’m happy to announce that over the past two weeks we’ve seen a new wave of uptake in first dose vaccinations.  In the last seven days 900 people have received a first dose, the highest number of people since the middle of July,” he says.

Dr. Chirico says the 18-29 age group continues to have the lowest vaccination rates.

However, he says in the past week they saw the highest number of first doses given to that age group since the beginning of July.

The Health Unit has also seen rates exceeding 90 percent in individuals aged 60 years and older who are fully vaccinated.

Andrea McLellan, Director of COVID-19 Immunization Strategy, says thousands of people will still need to get vaccinated for them to reach the provincial target of 90 percent.

“In order for us to achieve this goal an additional 9,120 individuals need to roll up their sleeve for their first dose and 16,952 individuals need to get a second dose.  I believe we can do this,” she says.

McLellan points out the number of people needed to be immunized to reach the target will change if and when vaccines are approved for those ages five to 11.

Twenty-two new COVID-19 cases were reported in the past seven days.

“Definitely we have seen an increase in the number of cases.  This isn’t unexpected as we’ve entered into stage three and there are more venues open, there’s more socializing occurring and people are in closer contact,” says Shannon Mantha, Executive Director of Clinical Services & Chief Nursing Officer.  “Our best chance to combat that is to be vaccinated and continue to follow all public health measures.”

The majority of COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks have been in people who are not fully vaccinated.

“Over the past 14 days, 62 percent of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and were eligible for the vaccine were not fully immunized,” says Dr. Carol Zimbalatti, Public Health Physician.  “Furthermore seven cases were born in 2010 or later and are not yet able to be vaccinated.”

She says 38 percent of cases have been identified as breakthrough cases, meaning people who are considered fully vaccinated.

In school vaccine clinics open next week for staff, students and parents.

The Health Unit continues to offer vaccination against COVID-19 through scheduled clinics and its newest Mobile Vaccination Clinic bus initiative.