C-K hits 70% vaccinated mark
By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As predicted, the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario is on the rise.
But so is the number of people in Chatham-Kent stepping up to get the vaccine.
As of Monday, the municipality hit a milestone, with 70 per cent of people over age 12 fully vaccinated.
It’s good news for the municipality, said Chatham-Kent medical officer of health Dr. David Colby, as the fourth COVID-19 wave – propelled by the Delta variant – is arguably now underway.
Colby said he believes Chatham-Kent can do better when it comes to taking the shot, as it has one of the lowest vaccine uptake rates in Ontario.
“It’s a start,” said Colby in reference to the 70-per-cent marker. “There’s still more work to be done.
“The vaccine is the way out,” he added, as 95 per cent of local cases are people who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.
There were 36 active cases of COVID-19 recorded Tuesday, up four from Monday, according to CK Public Health. Seven new local cases were logged over the past 24 hours, with three deemed resolved.
However, the number of people hospitalized locally with COVID-19 rose to six on Monday. Chatham-Kent Health Alliance officials said two of those patients are in the ICU but are not on ventilators.
One public figure, who made national news last week, is not getting the vaccine. Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls made headlines after he was kicked out of Ontario’s Progressive Conservation caucus for not getting the shot.
Colby said the MPP’s decision saddened him, adding he has had discussions with Nicholls regarding the “solid science” behind the vaccine.
But Colby noted, “Mr. Nicholls is free to make his own decision,” however, Public Health will be happy to provide him with the shot if he wants.
It’s still unclear how far the province or the municipality will go in terms of mandating vaccinations or incorporating vaccine passports.
In a kind of piece-meal approach, Ontario announced vaccines will be mandatory for employees in high-risk settings and has also expanded eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to children born in 2009 or earlier.
To protect vulnerable patients and staff where the risk of transmission is high, Ontario’s medical officer of health said hospitals and home and community care providers must have vaccine policies for employees, contractors and volunteers. Paramedics must take the shot as well.
The vaccination policy must take effect no later than Sept. 7.
The government will also make third doses available to vulnerable seniors.
Other institutions, such as some colleges and universities, including the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph, and St. Clair College, require the vaccine.
The federal government has announced its employees and its affiliated employees will be mandated to be vaccinated.
Ontario has also halted moving forward out of Step 3 in the Roadmap to Reopen. In order to move out of phase three, the province requires 75 per cent of the population to have two doses of the vaccine.
No public health unit can have less than 70 per cent of their eligible population vaccinated and other key issues such as hospital capacity and case counts must remain stable.