Youth vaccination rates lag in C-K

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By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Dr. David Colby wants to see Chatham-Kent lead rather than follow, particularly when it comes to preventing COVID-19.

The municipality’s public health leader made the comments at a regular media conference last week, lamenting the fact vaccination rates for local youth are currently lagging 13 per cent behind the provincial average.

Colby said he doesn’t want to see Chatham-Kent playing “catch up,” adding prevention is a far better strategy than reaction when dealing with the virus.

The local rate for fully vaccinated adults has reached 61 per cent, but Colby said there is still a long way to go as the highly contagious Delta variant has arrived in Chatham-Kent.

For youth aged 12-17, 49 per cent had received one jab, while just 18 per cent had received a second dose, as of Monday morning.

Also as of Monday, we were down to just five active cases, however, Public Health officials said at least four of them were of the Delta variant. Colby said the virus — which is 67 per cent more transmissible than COVID-19’s earlier versions — will find the people who are not vaccinated.

The potential for “the wheels to fall off” is real, he said, adding Delta could create “tremendous mayhem.”

Colby said Delta has taken hold in Kitchener-Waterloo and Grey Bruce with outbreaks occurring primarily among those who are not vaccinated.

Demand for the vaccine had fallen there, Colby said, but that reversed dramatically when Delta reared its head.

First doses across-the-board are also levelling off in Chatham-Kent and Colby would like to see more people roll up their sleeves.

The health unit will make that even easier this week as first dose walk-in clinics will be offered at the Bradley Centre on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Pfzier BioNTech vaccine will be administered.

A special youth and family pop up clinic will be held at Kingston Park Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. as well.

Colby said Chatham-Kent has made getting a first dose of vaccine easier, adding everyone is welcome without an appointment.

An appointment is required for second doses.

Colby said he hopes people will be motivated to do the right thing by getting the vaccine, adding he’s not a fan of offering incentives as a carrot stick.

In some areas in the United States, people who get vaccinated are entered in a lottery or given other types of freebies.

Many American employers are also offering added incentives for those who are fully immunized.

In Ontario, discussions as to whether governments and employers can require people to be vaccinated are currently ongoing.

For a full list of COVID-19 vaccine clinics please consult the Chatham-Kent Public Health webpage.

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