First-timers still coming in for vax - that's good news say health officials

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on with Omicron sweeping through local communities, some in Oxford and Elgin counties who were once vaccine-hesitant appear to be coming around.

More than 300 people were expected to take in a popup vaccine clinic in Aylmer Friday.

Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) Director of Vaccines Susan MacIsaac said she’s pleased to still be seeing new faces.

“There are some people who have waited and we are seeing some first doses today, which is wonderful. Anyone who makes that decision, it’s great news. You know they hear that we have had some deaths and I think that’s worrisome for people, so they’re deciding to make that decision to give them the best protection as possible,” said MacIsaac.

Thirty-one year old Dylan Grant-Wilson, formerly of Toronto now residing in Aylmer, came for his booster.

“Basically to protect my family,” he said. “I personally am not too concerned with this variant, but I still think it’s important to do what you can and have a baseline vaccination.”

Jaxon Vonk was happy to get his first dose. Of course, he’s only nine-years-old, but his mom Julie Smith said he took it upon himself to make sure he got to the clinic.“Actually it was his decision,” she said. “I asked him if he wanted to be vaccinated now that there are vaccines for children his age, And he said ‘yes I’d like to be safe.’ And that’s why were here today.”

The push to get people vaccinated comes amid a surge of COVID hospitalizations in Elgin and Oxford counties, along with a COVID outbreak at Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital.

In a news release the hospital said fewer than five patients have tested positive.

According to Southwestern Public Health, there are currently 52 COVID hospitalizations in the region, with 10 in the ICU.

All the more reason to come in for a shot, said MacIsaac. “So people who are vaccinated, it really does give some protection from hospitalization and that really is our goal.”

SWPH is hosting a popup COVID-19 vaccination clinic Tuesday, Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tillsonburg Community Centre. Appointments are required.