WECHU hoping to increase vaccination coverage among youth, young adults

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is hoping a new campaign will help engage young people and increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage among those eligible.

WECHU launched a campaign “LetsGetBack to the things we love” targeting youth, offering information and resources on the vaccination and local COVID-19 data.

“We are using different social media platforms including Snapchat and exploring other platforms we know youth frequent. And really it’s just about getting the message out there…all the reasons why vaccination’s important," said WECHU CEO Nicole Dupuis.

“So there are certainly the health reasons but also the social reasons, all the things that we’re missing because of the pandemic and we know being vaccinated will get youth back to those things that they love. Whether it be seeing your family, participating in team sports again, and if those are the motivators we hope to get that message out there."

During the weekly epidemiological summary presented on Friday, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said 49.6 per cent of youth 12-17 have received at least one dose, while 75.1 per cent of Windsor-Essex adults have.

Ahmed said vaccination coverage for youth will be important for getting students back in the classroom.

“If we are not getting that population vaccinated at this time, we are putting them at a disadvantage for when the schools open,” he says.

Ahmed said the health unit is planning pop-ups and allowing for walk-ins at mass vaccination clinics for this age group, and is trying to engage everyone in the conversation with more targeted messaging.

“So it is a concern for our community, we have been engaged with our school board partners,” he says. “We are working very closely with our high priority community strategies, with health system partners to increase vaccination rates in our 12-17 age group.”

Ahmed said it is also important to increase the vaccination rates among the 20-29 age group as 40 per cent of cases have been among this group over the last two weeks.

“We tend to see cases in the age band that is unvaccinated or that has a lower coverage of vaccination,” he said. “So similar trend continues when we are looking at the cases in the population group is between now 20-29 years.”

Adults between the ages of 18-24 currently have a vaccination rate of 56 per cent, while the 25-29 age group is at 60 per cent.

“With a global pandemic that is raging in every part of the world, everyone is vulnerable. This is a new virus, everyone is vulnerable and everyone can be at risk of not only developing severe disease," Ahmed said. "Even if there’s a feeling or perception that we are not at risk, it’s wrong."

Overall, 75.1 per cent of adults in Windsor-Essex have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 55.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.