New vaccinations tapering off in CK

A public health nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine. (File photo supplied by Southwestern Public Health)

Chatham-Kent’s top public health doctor is hoping that any residents who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 yet will have a change of heart.

As of Tuesday morning, Chatham-Kent is at 14 active cases of the virus. The municipality saw a slight jump in numbers over the past weekend with eight new cases and no additional recoveries.

According to Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby, a majority of the recent cases have been made up of people who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I think if we go back in the last 10 new cases that we’ve had, even the last 14 new cases, 13 of them are in totally unvaccinated people and one of them was in a partially vaccinated person,” Colby said. “That’s the take-home message, we have to get those vaccines done.”

To date, Chatham-Kent health officials have administered a total of 126,989 doses. In all eligible residents aged 12 and up, 74 per cent have received at least one dose while 63 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Some positive news, Colby said, is the fact that 50 per cent of people in every age group in Chatham-Kent have received at least one dose. This includes the 12 to 17 demographic, which Colby previously expressed concerns over regarding lower than average vaccine rates.

“We’re chugging along and hopefully we’ll get to those targets,” he said.

As for the remaining amount resident of residents that have not yet been vaccinated, Colby said it’s not just a problem that Chatham-Kent is dealing with.

“I was on a teleconference [on Monday] with my colleagues around the province. New vaccination rates are dropping off,” he said. “We appear to have hit the wall at around 80 per cent or so. The rest just don’t seem to be wanting to get in.”

Colby said he recognizes that there might not be any further persuading people who are hesitant about getting vaccinated and he’s not sure what exactly can be done to reach that percentage of the population.

However, he’s hoping that those individuals will research the vaccine and learn about its effectiveness.

“As Dr. Fauci in the United States has said, this a pandemic of the unvaccinated now,” said Colby.

Chatham-Kent’s mass vaccination clinic, which opened in February at the Bradley Centre in Chatham, remains open for the time being, but Colby said how much longer it will be open for will depend on local numbers.

“We’ve seen a significant drop off in the utilization of the Bradley Centre, so maybe it’s time to start thinking about mainly switching to pop up clinics to more targeted areas and populations that haven’t been vaccinated yet,” said Colby. “In the very near future, I would say it would remain open and we’ll certainly have an ongoing vaccination program in Chatham-Kent.”

While Colby is pushing for people to get their first and second doses, health officials in Quebec have their focus on third doses of the vaccine.

The health department in the province recently announced that it will offer a third dose of an mRNA vaccine to people who are hoping to travel to countries that do not recognize mixed and matched doses.

Colby said there isn’t enough evidence available right now on whether this is an effective method, though.

“Until this gets standardized through a treaty with the World Health Organization, there are some countries that aren’t accepting certain brands of vaccine and a few that don’t take split regiments,” he explained. “We know the science is very solid that that works and it protects you. In terms of the rubber stamp of getting across the border, that might not be enough. So I think that’s what Quebec is trying to address.”

Since the pandemic started, Chatham-Kent has logged a total of 1,912 cases, 1,881 recoveries and 17 deaths.