More Chatham-Kent residents can now be vaccinated against COVID-19

Chatham Mass Vaccination Clinic at the John D. Bradley Centre on February 22, 2021 (Photo by Allanah Wills)

COVID-19 vaccination appointments in Chatham-Kent will be available to more groups this week, including people aged 50 and older.

Chatham-Kent Public Health said Tuesday morning those eligible can start booking their appointments for a spot at the clinics on Thursday morning beginning at 8 a.m. at GetYourShotCK.ca or by calling 519-351-1010 and leaving a message.

The following groups can begin booking appointments on Thursday at any of the listed clinic dates in Chatham, Blenheim, and Wallaceburg scheduled over the coming weeks:

– Individuals age 50+ (Born in 1971 or earlier)

People who cannot work from home in one of the following job categories:

– Remaining elementary and secondary school workers (including educators, custodial staff, school bus drivers, administrative staff)

– Workers responding to critical events (including police, fire, special constables, children’s aid society workers, emergency management, critical infrastructure restoration workers)

– Enforcement, inspection and compliance roles (including bylaw enforcement, building inspectors, food inspectors, animal welfare inspectors, border inspection officers, labour inspectors, WSIB field workers)

– Remaining individuals working in licensed childcare settings (including all licensees, employees and students on educational placements who interact directly with children in licensed childcare centres and in authorized recreation and skill building programs, licensed home child care and in-home service providers, employees of home child care agencies

– Foster care workers (including customary care providers

– Food manufacturing and distribution workers

– Agriculture and farm workers

– Funeral, crematorium and cemetery workers

“We know that this past year has been a very challenging and frustrating time and that residents are eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine. CK Public Health staff are working very hard to rollout the vaccine efficiently and in line with the Ministry of Health’s vaccination plan,” said the health unit in a news release. “Please be patient, kind and respectful to our staff.”

Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the local vaccine supply remains steady. He expects the supply to increase locally by the middle of May and stay that way with greater increases before too long.

Dr. Colby also doesn’t expect the provincial stay-at-home order to end by the May 24 long weekend, either.

“If I were in the seat making that kind of decision, I’d be worried about the champagne bottle effect. You pull the cork and it fizzes all over the place,” said Colby. “May 24 weekend is a traditional party weekend and pulling the lockdown right off, I just don’t think that’s a good idea. It might be too tempting for folks to say hey, we don’t have restrictions anymore, let’s have unsafe parties.”

Colby added we’re not out of the pandemic yet and people still have to be careful until more people are vaccinated. The doctor said nearly 40 per cent of Chatham-Kent residents who are eligible for the shot have received at least one dose to date. Colby said he wants to double that percentage before health and safety restrictions start getting relaxed.

Click here for the latest COVID-19 vaccination updates.

On Tuesday morning, Chatham-Kent Public Health reported two new cases and seven resolved cases for a total of 34 active cases. The number of local residents with the virus in the Chatham hospital also dropped to three, down from five on Monday. The number of outbreaks is also down to one from two the previous day. The current workplace outbreak has five cases. The number of residents with a variant of COVID-19 or related mutation is up to 177.

Walpole Island First Nation is reporting six active cases and no new deaths.

Another vaccine clinic is being held May 7 for band members 18 and older needing their first dose. Appointments can be booked by calling the Walpole Island Health Centre at 519-627-0765.

Ontario is reporting 2,791 new cases, which is the lowest number of new infections in about a month.