COVID-19: Recent deaths in Peterborough had first vaccine dose, health unit says

Peterborough Public Health says the last three COVID-19 deaths all had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Getty Images file

Peterborough Public Health says the three most recent COVID-19 deaths in the area all had their first dose of a vaccine.

Medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra revealed the detail during Tuesday’s virtual media briefing. The health unit reported the 17th death in its jurisdiction on Monday, a 64-year-old individual. The 15th death was reported on May 6  and the 16th death on Sunday (a 79-year-old).

In the case of Monday’s death, the individual had a time interval of about four weeks from immunization to the time of infection.

The 16th and 17th individuals both had one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. One of the individuals contracted COVID-19 from a close contact, Salvaterra said.

Read more: 80% of Canadians support COVID-19 vaccine passports for travel, poll finds

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“We’ve had very sad examples of people who were infected about a week after their vaccine — so there hadn’t been enough time for the vaccine to work,” said Salvaterra.

She said the deaths with just one vaccine “sadly reinforces” the need to not loosen public health measures until more people are fully vaccinated.

“Individuals had received their first vaccination but still contracted COVID before their immune systems had a chance to mount a strong enough response,” she said.

“It is critical that we do not plan to reduce our public health measures until enough of us have received that second dose and are fully vaccinated.”

The deaths are a “sobering reminder” that individuals are not fully protected with just one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We really can’t let down our guard,” she said. “We have to continue all of those important public health measures like physical distancing, not sharing the air with those outside our households, wearing masks — those are all important things we need to keep doing, even immunized.”

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For the week of May 3, the health unit reported 56 new cases of COVID-19, down from the previous two weeks of 67 (April 26) and 66 (April 19).

However, Salvaterra cautioned that community spread of the virus is “creeping up,” making up 19 per cent of cases.

Sources of exposure for all cases in the health unit’s jurisdiction:

  • Contact with an existing case: 76 per cent; last four weeks: 226 cases
  • Travel: 4.2 per cent; last four weeks: four cases
  • Community spread: 19 per cent; last four weeks: 69 cases

She says the region’s cases and close contacts are falling “very slowly” but across Ontario daily case counts remain high, likely meaning the current stay-at-home order will be extended beyond May 20.

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The number of active cases as of Monday evening for the health unit was 65.

“They all need to come down — they are coming down here in Peterborough. But we have a ways to go before the stay-at-home order can be lifted,” she said.

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