Time for Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Halton Hills to ‘double up’ vaccination efforts, says Halton’s medical officer of health

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Published July 30, 2021 at 4:20 pm

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While Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills residents have been doing their part in going to get vaccinated, there’s still a ways to go in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent Halton vaccination rates show more than 66 per cent of eligible Halton residents, ages 12 and up, are fully vaccinated while 81 per cent have at least one dose.

While we are now starting to see the positive impacts to vaccination with fewer outbreaks, less community spread and a reduction in serious illness, Dr. Meghani, Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner, Halton Region, says now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal.

“While our vaccination rates are a good start, they are not sufficient to protect us against a potential fourth wave of the pandemic,” said Dr. Meghani, who outlined in a video five key reasons to get vaccinated this summer.

“Now is the time to double down on our efforts. Fall is around the corner and we need to be prepared for indoor activities and for the return to school, college and university.

To reduce the changes of a surge in the fall, Dr. Meghani says the goal is to vaccinate 90 per cent of the community.

“As we move to reopen and ease some public health restrictions, we will likely see an increase in cases and those not vaccinated have a much higher chance of getting severely ill, more so than earlier in the pandemic,” she said.

Here are five key reasons why Dr. Meghani encourages everyone to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible:

1. Most new COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated – According to Data from Public Health Ontario for the month of June, the risk of getting COVID-19 is almost five times higher if you are unvaccinated and over three times if you are partially vaccinated.

“Vaccines are proven to be safe and effective,” the Halton’s top doctor said. “They are very good at preventing new infections, and they’re excellent at keeping people out of the hospital.”

2. The Delta variant is now the dominant strain of the COVID-19 virus in Ontario –

“It is more transmissible than the strains circulating early in the pandemic and causes more severe illness,” she said. “Thankfully we have seen that vaccines are proving to be effective against the variants of concern including the Delta variant, although two doses of vaccine are required to provide the best level of production.”

3. Case counts are highest among 20 to 39 year olds –

This age group also has the lowest vaccination rate in Halton.

“COVID-19 does not discriminate,” Dr. Meghani said. “Anyone of any age can get sick with the virus, particularly with highly transmissible variants in circulation. Evan a mild COVID-19 infection, can cause long COVID symptoms.”

4. COVID-19 vaccines are safe –

“I want to assure you that the COVID-19 vaccines we use in Halton are based on decades of research and are safe and effective,” she explained. ” It was possible to develop them quickly while ensuring safety because of unprecedented cooperation among experts worldwide in response to the pandemic.

“Those of you who are planning families, have no need to worry. There is no evidence that these vaccines have any impact on fertility or pregnancy.”

5. Supports are available to help you get vaccinated –

Some of you concerned about taking time from work to get your shot or recover from side effects

“If you need to take time off work to get your COVID-19 vaccine, your are entitled to job protected infectious disease emergency leave,” she said. “Appointments and recovery time are both included in the three days offered by the province’s paid sick leave plan that covers employees under the employment’s standards act.”

You can book online at halton.ca/COVIDvaccines or if you need help, call 31. Appointments are also available through many pharmacies, pop-up clinics, doctor offices and walk-in appointments

“Please help us reach our goal of 90 per cent,” Dr. Meghani said.

If you know someone who is struggling to make time for an appointment, reach out to offer to help them. If you encounter someone who is hesitant, listen to their concerns, tell them about your experience and offer to connect them with credible resources where they can learn more.

“Let’s roll up our sleeves to have a two-dose summer and a more normal September,” she added. “Together we can do this.”

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