Vaccine mandates, passports are working in Windsor-Essex: health officials

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Over the past month, vaccine certificates and mandates have been implemented in a number of workplaces and society at large, with the goal of increasing vaccination rates.

And despite a much slower uptake of vaccines compared to the summer, officials say the policies are working.

David Musyj of Windsor Regional Hospital says the proof is in plateauing daily case rates since many of the mandates took effect, along with a steady stream of first doses.

“Those two factors alone, show the mandates work locally, the passports work,” says Musyj, who says the hospital’s mandate resulted in nearly 99 per cent hospital-wide compliance.

He refers to this as a way the hospital is leading by example and hopes society will follow suit in a bigger way.

“What we do know is doing nothing’s not an option,” Musyj says. “More and more, employers are following the lead, and saying, ‘you want to work here, you’ve got to be vaccinated.’”

On Sept. 16, 2021, an estimated 70,000 Windsor-Essex residents still hadn’t received a first dose of the vaccine.

Today, 10,000 of those previously unvaccinated have now received a shot.

“We are making progress, it is slow, we have seen improvements in our younger age-groups,” says Ramsey D’Souza, the manager of epidemiology and evaluation at the Windsor Essex County Health Unit.

The region — along with Chatham-Kent still lags behind the rest of the province in vaccination rates and boast higher per cent positivity.

“We almost need to swap, or be in a position where our cases are in the lower end and our vaccination rates are in the higher end,” says D’Souza.

The seven-day average for vaccinations in Windsor-Essex is 935 doses a day, according to WECHU, a number that’s down a couple-hundred from the week before.

That’s not a fast enough uptake, according to the region’s acting medical officer of health.

“Looking at the burden of disease in Windsor Essex compared to other health districts, Windsor-Essex still has a higher burden of COVID in the community,” says Dr. Shanker Nesathurai.

Guided by a public-health mantra that’s vaccinations and other public health measures are the best way out of the pandemic.

“We see every dose or a second dose as a real success,” says Nicole Dupuis, the CEO of WECHU.