“We need to have at least 130,000 to 140,000 people fully dosed,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), regarding the vaccination safety margin for the Eastern Ontario region.
During his weekly Monday online meeting with regional media, Dr. Roumeliotis summarized COVID-19 statistics for July 12 for the province and the EOHU region. He noted no deaths, no outbreaks in long-term care homes (LTCs) or other facilities, and no hospital cases of COVID-19 within the EOHU.
“Which is very good,” he said, also noting that provincial numbers also show similar trends in most parts of Ontario.
The continuing increase in vaccination numbers and the decline in the number of active COVID-19 cases has encouraged the provincial government to advance the launch of Step Three for its new economic restart plan to this Friday, July 16, at midnight. The number of people allowed to gather in public, both outdoors at special events and indoors in restaurants and in stores, will increase, and more businesses will be allowed to reopen to the public.
“It’s one step closer to normal,” said Dr. Roumeliotis, but he added that social distancing and masking rules are still in effect.
“We do still need to be careful,” he said, adding that one of the main concerns now is to guard against the mutant strains of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, which are easier to pass on.
Dr. Roumeliotis noted that there are no signs of the Delta variant within the EOHU, though there are reported cases in a few other regions of Ontario.
“We still need to be careful,” he said.
EOHU statistics for vaccinations as of July 12 are 220,000 people who have had their first dose of vaccine and almost 79,000 for people with two doses received. Dr. Roumeliotis noted that almost half of the adult population of Eastern Ontario have had their two vaccinations, with the senior sector of the region at between 60 percent to 75 per cent for two doses of vaccine.
The shortfall in vaccination numbers, Dr. Roumeliotis observed, is in the younger demographic of adults aged 30 or younger. Many have not had their second dose of vaccine yet and there is still a large number of young people who have not received any vaccine at all.
The focus now, Dr. Roumeliotis said, is to get more people vaccinated twice and to reduce the number of people who still have not had their first dose of vaccine. The EOHU is looking at a variety of methods to promote vaccination, including a social media strategy that targets younger adults. The regional health unit will also looking at doing more “pop up clinics” to help people living in more rural areas who have difficulty getting to the mass vaccination clinics in the larger urban areas.