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‘Hitting somewhat of a plateau’: Simcoe Muskoka top doc addresses COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

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Simcoe Muskoka’s top doctor said the region is hitting “somewhat of a plateau” in administering first doses of a COVID-19 jab and that officials are now noticing more vaccine hesitancy among the population.

“When we look at the number of the bookings that we have coming and where the vaccine is going now, maybe 90 per cent of the most recent administration of the vaccine has gone to people for their second doses,” Dr. Charles Gardner, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s medical officer of health, told reporters Tuesday.

Read more: COVID-19 — 9 new cases confirmed in Simcoe Muskoka

“When we look out into the future at the number of people booked for first doses, it’s much smaller than it had been before. I think we’re going to be very challenged in our ability to reach, say, an 80 per cent coverage for our population as a whole unless we’re able to turn that around.”

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Gardner said it’s important for people to get immunized so that they’re protected from COVID-19.

“One dose offers a high degree of protection against severe disease, even with the Delta variant,” the region’s top doctor added.

“People need to obtain immunization when they’re eligible and get a second dose as well when eligible and to accept the first type of vaccine available for a second dose.”

Gardner said the province of Ontario has approved either of the mRNA vaccines — whether it’s Pfizer or Moderna — for a second dose, with support from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

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“That interchangeability is very important for us now because it is imperative people get fully immunized as quickly as we can manage as a key response to being a Delta hot spot,” Gardner added.

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He said 74 per cent of the adult population age 18-plus have been immunized with a first dose, while 21 per cent have been inoculated with a second. Moreover, more than half of youth age 12 to 17 have immunized with a first dose.

“This is excellent progress, and certainly we need to continue with that progress,” Gardner said.

Read more: Canadian study finds mRNA vaccines produce more COVID-19 antibodies than AstraZeneca

“We still got almost a quarter of the adult population that hasn’t received a first dose. They are vulnerable to COVID-19.”

As of Wednesday, 63.8 per cent of the total population in Simcoe Muskoka has received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 18.7 per cent have received a second.

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