Hamilton’s top doc ‘cautiously optimistic’ city averted pandemic’s fourth wave

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Published October 18, 2021 at 11:11 am

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to drop across Hamilton, public health officials say they are ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the city has avoided the worst of the pandemic’s fourth wave.

During a presentation to Hamilton’s Board of Health on Monday (Oct. 18), Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said that all indicators suggest that transmission of COVID-19 in the community has slowed significantly as vaccination rates have increased and public health measures have remained in place.

“We are cautiously optimistic the fourth wave has been averted,” she said.

Richardson cautioned Board members that with cooler temperatures settling in across the region, transmission could increase as activities move indoors.

Activity in schools

Stephanie Hughes, an epidemiologist with Hamilton’s Public Health Services (PHS), provided some insight on some of the data presented to the BoH on Monday, particularly as it relates to transmission in schools.

Hughes pointed out that the number of cases in Hamilton schools hit a peak at the end of September but that in recent weeks, case activity has remained relatively low, averaging approximately five cases per day being reported.

In terms of the city’s vaccination efforts, some headway has been made in some of the neighbourhoods where uptake rates were low.

Since mid-September, and in adherence to the Province’s ‘last-mile strategy’, PHS stepped up its vaccination outreach by offering more mobile clinics and increasing clinic hours among other initiatives. It is hoped that COVID-19 vaccination coverage will reach 90 per cent across the city.

Increasing vaccine uptake

In the L8L neighbourhood, where vaccination rates have remained among the lowest in the city, there was a 2.9 per cent increase in the number of people getting their first dose and a 4.5 per cent increase in the number of residents fully vaccinated.

Despite the increase, that postal code has the lowest rate of coverage in Hamilton with 68.4 per cent of residents fully vaccinated. The highest rate of coverage is in the L8S neighbourhood in west Hamilton with 88.4 per cent.

A surge in vaccination demand is expected in the coming weeks as eligibility for boosters will broaden and the approval for shots in those 5 to 11 years old is anticipated.

To meet this demand, PHS said that they are working with school boards, primary health-care providers and McMaster Children’s Hospital to develop a plan to administer shots to the younger cohort.

There are also plans to launch two mini mass vaccination clinics and rotating mobile clinics, the details of which will be made available soon.

More information about Hamilton’s vaccination rollout, including how to access clinics, can be found on the City’s website.

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