The medical officer of health for the public health unit that oversees Guelph says its COVID-19 vaccination rate is above the provincial and national average despite starting its rollout three weeks behind.
In a presentation to Guelph city council this week, Dr. Nicola Mercer said as of Feb. 25, the vaccination rate in the jurisdiction was at 5,848 per 100,000.
The national rate was at 5,299 per 100,000 while the provincial rate was even lower at 4,971 per 100,000.
Mercer pointed out that the area started vaccinating on Jan. 6 — more than three weeks after the first vaccines were administered in Canada on Dec. 14.
“We had to catch up,” Mercer said.
She added that most long-term care and retirement home residents have been fully vaccinated and they are pretty close to completing the highest-priority health-care workers such as staff in intensive care, emergency departments and assessment centres.
“There have been a few that have refused, but for the most part, everybody has wanted the vaccine,” she said.
A pre-registration portal has been launched on public health’s website for others who are eligible in Phase 1 of the province’s vaccination rollout. That includes adults over the age of 80.
Mercer admitted she worried about seniors navigating the online portal but said it hasn’t been an issue and reported that 3,600 seniors pre-registered this past weekend alone.
“I have been totally surprised,” Mercer said. “This generation is fabulous at figuring things out.”
They have been using pharmacies, doctor’s offices and even libraries to get their name on a list, according to Mercer.
There are about 12,000 seniors over the age of 80 in the region and Mercer said they have immunized about two-thirds of them.
Also included in Phase 1 are Indigenous adults, recipients of chronic home care, along with health-care workers in hospitals, congregate settings, laboratories, and COVID-19 response roles.
The province also recently added front-line police officers and those experiencing homelessness to the list of people eligible for the first phase of vaccinations.
Mercer said they are still working with local outreach partners to figure out the best way to vaccinate the city’s homeless population.
As for who is next, Mercer said Phase 2 of the province’s vaccination plan will be a bit more complex and how people are prioritized will be based on a combination of age, medical issues and their workplace.
Mercer added that to get to the beginning of herd immunity, around 65 per cent of the population will need to be vaccinated.
WDG Public Health’s goal is to vaccinate 75 per cent of the population by the end of August, but Mercer hopes to go even higher than that.
“I really hope that people will realize that we’re not just doing it for ourselves, we’re actually doing it for our loved ones,” Mercer said.