'It's not over until it's over,' Ontario doctor urges people to get fully vaccinated

The introduction of numerous COVID-19 variants has increased the potential for a fourth wave; still, one Alliston, Ont., doctor says it's not necessarily a "material worry" given the availability of vaccines.

Stevenson Memorial Hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Barry Nathanson, who is also a critical care specialist at Southlake Hospital in Newmarket, believes that if another wave were to occur, those who are fully vaccinated would be protected.

"A fourth wave would be amongst those who are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated, but most worry would be for those who have by that time have chosen not to be vaccinated," says the Alliston hospital physician.

"The vaccines protect us from a fourth wave that we have seen in one, two, and three. It would be mild except for those who are unvaccinated," he says.

So far in Simcoe Muskoka, 66 per cent of the population have received one dose, while nearly 80 per cent of adults in Ontario have rolled up their sleeves at least once, but Dr. Nathanson says having that one dose isn't going to cut it.

"We need to get many more people doubly and fully vaccinated," says Dr. Nathanson. "That's where the protection lies, and until then, none of us can rest."

As cases continue to drop to levels not seen since last August, Dr. Nathanson says he continues to watch for the emergence of variants, including variants of interests Epsilon and Lambda.

However, the one thing concerning the doctor - if it were to happen - is the idea of an acute or serious illness in someone who is fully vaccinated needing hospitalization.

"We're holding the ground with vaccinations against the variants as they emerge, and it's not over until it's over," he says.

"The big worry is that we will see some breakthrough, but on the other hand, we haven't see seen it yet, and the answer to our problems remains increased vaccination," Dr. Nathanson concludes.