'Every dose counts': Waterloo Region officials 'pleading' with people to get vaccinated against COVID-19
Officials in Waterloo Region continue to encourage people to get a first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose as soon as possible to help prevent further spread of the Delta variant.
"We're beyond asking, we're pleading for people to get vaccinated," Bruce Lauckner, the region's CAO, said at the weekly COVID-19 briefing on Friday.
Vaccines are available at mass clinics throughout the region, along with pharmacies, primary care offices, drive-thru clinics and mobile buses bringing doses right into communities.
"Every dose counts," Lauckner said. "The more we get vaccinated, the safer we are and the closer we get to a full reopening."
As of Thursday, nearly 83 per cent of the eligible population 12 and older had received at least one vaccine dose, and more than 69 per cent had received both vaccine doses.
"I urge all residents who have not yet done so, to get the first or second doses as soon as possible," Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said at Friday's update. "Every day that someone delays vaccination is a day lost in the fight against the fourth wave."
The region has launched one mobile vaccination bus to reach communities with lower vaccination rates, and plans to add another to the roster this weekend. Drive-thru vaccinations are also offered at Bingemans.
Vickie Murray with the region's vaccination task force said around 20 per cent of people using the mobile bus and drive-thru clinic were there for a first dose.
Starting Saturday, the vaccine bus will move through various locations, including the St. Jacob's Market, Fairview Park Malll, Conestoga Mall, downtown Elmira and other community locations.
Vaccine clinics are also planned for some schools in the coming weeks. The "Hockey Hub" model employed at Bingemans earlier this month will be available at Monsignor Doyle and Resurrection schools for those upcoming clinics.
AIMING TO REACH 90 PER CENT VACCINATED
Dr. Wang said the region is now aiming at reaching a 90 per cent vaccination rate in the eligible population.
"Delta is the most transmissible and aggressive variant we've seen, so it's not surprising that the rate of immunization coverage in the population needs to be higher than before," she said. "Those thresholds that were set previously were set as a function of the Alpha variant, which has been our most transmissible before Delta. Now that Delta is here, we have to aim higher."
Dr. Wang added high vaccination rates will help protect people who aren't able to be vaccinated at this time.
"Until we reach a state where there's herd immunity, so to speak, or at least there's sufficiently high vaccine coverage in the population, we will need some measure of public health precautions to help prevent significant surges in case rates that could lead to significant hospitalizations and impacts for the community."
RATES IMPROVING BUT COULD INCREASE AGAIN
Dr. Wang said local case rates have fallen through July, but are at-risk of rising again.
The current incidence rate is 17 cases per 100,000 people per week, down from around 60 cases per 100,000 people at the beginning of the month.
Although case rates have fallen through July, Dr. Wang said they've started to creep up again in the past few days. Increases will likely be in the high teens and 20s over the next little while.
OUTBREAK AT DAY CAMP
A number of cases and high-risk contacts were identified after an outbreak in multiple cohorts at Adventure 4 Change Day Camp. The region's COVID-19 dashboard shows the outbreak was declared on July 28. There are seven confirmed cases associated with that outbreak as of Thursday.
Dr. Wang said the day camp has closed voluntarily and public health is contacting any high-risk contacts.
The camp's director, Jeremy Horne, said Adventure 4 Change follows all public health measures.
"We are 100 per cent in agreement with public health's position," he said in a statement. "The more people vaccinated the safer our children will be."
Dr. Wang added that community interactions outside of the camp may have played a role in the outbreak.
Anyone who has any symptoms or is in contact with someone from the camp should get a COVID-19 test, Dr. Wang said.
There were three enforcement actions reported at Friday's update.
Region of Waterloo bylaw handed out a $1,130 ticket to Living Waters Book and Toy under the Reopening Ontario Act. Pasha Shisha was also ticketed by Waterloo city bylaw under that act, for $880.
A $240 fine was issued by Grand River Transit security at Mill Station for failing to comply with the face covering bylaw.
With files from CTV Kitchener's Nicole Lampa.