By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Chatham-Kent is almost halfway to the goal of COVID-19 herd immunity.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby told a municipal press conference that as of April 29, 36 percent of residents age 16 and over had received at least one dose of vaccine.
The goal, he said, is to get at least 80 percent of the population fully vaccinated.
Hitting the herd immunity mark depends on the “goodwill of the people,” Colby explained, reiterating that widespread vaccination is the “ticket out of the pandemic.”
As of Thursday, 35,118 shots have been administered, with 33,570 of those as first doses.
The scope of eligibly continues to expand with CKPH announcing residents aged 55 and over can now book the shot.
People born in 1966 or earlier are invited to access GetYourShotCK.ca or call 519-351-1010.
Colby said there’s been no lag in delivering vaccines, adding they are dispensed as quickly as possible. However, he said, some doses are kept in reserve for residents who may be at risk because of other health conditions.
Delivery of the shots to shut-ins continues Colby added, and more pop up clinics are in the works.
When asked if he is concerned that people are coming from outside Chatham-Kent to get the vaccine, Colby said it’s a win for anyone to get the jab.
Although it’s true that people have come here to be immunized at one of the local pharmacies, Colby said some Chatham-Kent residents have travelled elsewhere to get the shot.
“Our interest is that everybody gets the vaccine,” he added. “We don’t exist in isolation.”
While the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance remains ready to take COVID-19 patients from outside the area, it’s not happening on a large scale.
Hospital president and CEO Lori Marshall said the organization remains under a provincial directive prohibiting elective surgeries.
As of Thursday (April 29) the CKHA had six COVID-19 patients. Three of those are local residents, with the remainder coming from outside the municipality.
Marshall said two of those are in the intensive care unit on ventilators.
Overall, hospital occupancy stands at 79 percent with the 10-bed ICU listed as half full.