Peterborough Public Health’s medical officer of health says all COVID-19 vaccines are effective as more than 4,500 appointments are still available for the rest of May.
“If you belong to any of the groups that are eligible, please book your appointment as soon as you can,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra during Tuesday’s media briefing on the pandemic.
It’s estimated by Thursday, everyone in Ontario age 50 and over will be eligible for a vaccine, and those identified with high-risk health conditions and people who cannot work from home.
Vaccination clinics are expected to increase — currently operating at four days a week — by the end of May. Notifications are available online.
“We are also planning for those needed their second doses starting in June,” she said. “All of this is going on in the background.”
Salvaterra says based on the “fast and furious” rollout of vaccines in Ontario, she anticipates by May 24, anyone age 18 and older will be able to book an appointment.
She said in areas such as Peterborough, where there is “moderate to high transmission” of the virus, the benefits of getting whatever vaccine is available “outweigh the risk” from reports of health issues arising from a vaccine — whether single or two-dose.
“The bottom line is that in Ontario, given that we are in wave 3 and we that have moderate-to-high transmission here in Peterborough — it does still make sense to take whatever vaccine you can get,” said Salvaterra.
“The first vaccine you can access remains the best vaccine for you at this time.”
Salvaterra says several weeks after the first dose, health officials are “seeing 60 to 80 per cent effectiveness in preventing an infection.”
“So the vaccines do work well, but you need to wait three to four weeks,” she said. “It could be possible that with a significant portion of the population immunized — even with just one dose alone — might be enough to get the outbreak under control and allow us to enjoy some of benefits of herd immunity.”
She noted “mixing and matching” of the vaccines is not recommended, however, preliminary research continues, including the use of messenger RN vaccines as a potential second dose. On Monday the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are “preferred” and that Canadians should weigh the risks of waiting for one of them before deciding. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines have been linked to a new and extremely rare blood-clotting syndrome.
“The NACI ( recommendation is to complete your immunization with whatever you started with,” she said.
She noted despite a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine, she says in Ontario “it still looks good” a second dose will be made available.
Vaccination appointments must be made via the provincial call centre at 1-833-943-3900, available daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or anytime online.
She said daily and weekly new COVID-19 cases and high-risk contacts are slowly but “not consistently” declining. However, until more people are vaccinated, she cautioned that the region “cannot let down our guard on public health measures and the need to adhere to the stay-at-home order.”
As of Monday evening, there were 75 active cases of COVID-19 and 193 close contacts. Two weeks ago there were more than 420 high-risk contacts. There were 351 new cases reported in April, a 50 per cent increase over March and the highest monthly total since the pandemic was declared.
For the week of April 12, there were 112 cases, followed by two weeks of 66 cases and three cases to date for the week of May 3. Most of the new cases are variants of concern.
Despite the stay-at-home order, she noted a “few” cases were linked to travel.
“The light is getting brighter at the end of the tunnel, but we are still in the midst of a stay-at-home order,” she noted.
Two outbreaks were declared Monday at child care centres in Peterborough (one identified as Sunshine Care, the other not named).
Case specifics were not outlined but Salvaterra says adults and children have tested positive.
“It demonstrates that we have community transmission taking place,” she said.
All other current active outbreaks are stable, she said.
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