NWHU MOH reacts to province’s Three-Step Roadmap to reopen the province, encourages area residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19
Tim Brody - Editor
More than 42,700 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given across the region as of May 21, according to the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU).
“Our clinics are filling up, but there is still spaces in all communities to book. Anyone aged 18 or older can book directly through the provincial booking system at www.Ontario.ca/book-vaccine, NWHU Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Dr. Kit Young Hoon informed regional media on the morning of May 21.
Further information on booking vaccinations, eligibility and NWHU-led COVID-19 clinics can be found at https://www.nwhu.on.ca/covid19/Pages/booking-COVID19-vaccine-appointment.aspx.
“As you heard yesterday (May 19) from the province, much of the Three-Step Roadmap to reopen the province is based on vaccine coverage rates. I highly encourage everyone to get vaccinated for COVID-19. It is expected we will enter Step 1 of the plan the week of June 14. However, this requires a 60 per cent provincial coverage rate. If anyone is hesitant to get the vaccine, I can assure you that it is safe and effective and by getting it you are helping yourself and your community.”
Young Hoon shared, “We are concerned that young people have heard that there are links to fertility issues with the vaccine. This is false information. The vaccine is safe and does not impact fertility, including those who are on any form of birth control.”
She went on to add, “I think one of the things to recognize about the new framework that’s different is the requirement on coverage rates. So our vaccine coverage rates currently sit about 55 per cent, and at this point we are encouraging people, that if you can be vaccinated, you go on the booking system and book that appointment. We have many open spots right now in communities and we do recognize that people might need time to book their appointment, but now is the time to get it booked. It is open to any adult to get vaccinated, and soon it will be open to those 12-17. So, by increasing the number of people that get vaccinated, our coverage rates can improve and that increases the likelihood of opening.”
The provincial government shared on the afternoon of May 21 that COVID-19 vaccine booking for youth 12 and over was ahead of schedule, with youth aged 12 and over eligible to book their appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine beginning last weekend.
The provincial government shared in a May 21 news release that, “As of 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 23, 2021, youth aged 12 and over across Ontario will be eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through the provincial booking system and call centre, as well as at select pharmacies administering the Pfizer vaccine. To book an appointment online, these individuals must already be 12 years old as of the date of their booking.”
Asked about the province’s Three-Step Roadmap to reopen the province, Young Hoon told regional media, “I think the plan is reasonable. I think the initial approach of opening up to outdoor activity is definitely a good starting point. We do know that by being outside, there’s reduced risk and definitely for outdoor activities such as playing tennis, soccer, and so on, the risk is relatively low because you’re mainly outside and you’re able to maintain a physical distance. So it is, I think, a good space to be able to allow people to take a break from having to be inside all the time or having to self-isolate, as well as it also encourages physical activity and improved mental health. So I do think that’s a generally good start. Overall, I think the measures are - it’s a staggered approach and it makes sense from the point of how they open up.”
Young Hoon went on to state, “I think one of the things that’s always been different for our region is retail settings are not necessarily a high risk situation in our catchment area, because we don’t have the same type of crowded retail settings that may occur in southern Ontario, so that might be something that could be a bit different for our region, but, in the end, the province has decided to go with a province-wide approach as opposed to a regional approach.”
As of May 21, NWHU was reporting 26 active COVID-19 cases in its catchment area with 15 active cases in the Sioux Lookout Health Hub, five in the Dryden Health Hub, four in the Kenora Health Hub, one in the Fort Frances Health Hub and one in the Atikokan Health Hub.