Ottawa’s top doctor said Wednesday she’s setting the bar at 90 per cent of residents being fully vaccinated with both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as the city’s rollout campaign continues to hit new benchmarks this week.
Ottawa has now administered two vaccine doses to more than 300,000 people aged 18 and older, according to Wednesday’s update from the public health unit, marking 35 per cent of all adults. One in three eligible residents aged 12 and older is considered fully vaccinated.
That will soon include Mayor Jim Watson, who told a press conference Wednesday that he was heading to the Canadian Tire Centre that afternoon to finish his vaccine series with a second shot.
Demand for COVID-19 vaccines has been strong locally, according to Ottawa health officials.
Anthony Di Monte, head of Ottawa’s vaccine task force, said 120,000 appointments were booked locally in the provincial system on Monday morning when eligibility for accelerated second doses expanded to all adults.
While vaccination rates are high among older demographics — OPH’s dashboard shows a majority of those 60 and older now fully vaccinated — double-dose coverage for those younger than 40 remains below 20 per cent as of Wednesday.
Much of the lag can be traced to these age bands being only recently eligible for earlier second dose bookings.
Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said Wednesday that she’s not ringing alarm bells about vaccine hesitancy among younger adults — an issue the City of Toronto said last week that it’s rolling out a new strategy to address.
Etches said Ottawa’s current vaccination rates are a “point in time” and do not necessarily reflect where the city will end up.
But she did say younger adults were never extended a “specific invitation” to get their second dose as the age bands for eligibility dropped quickly in June.
She told any young adult who might be thinking they can keep waiting for their second shot that their time has come.
“The opportunity is here now and it does make a difference,” she said.
“We’re aiming for 90 per cent coverage across every age group and every neighbourhood. That is what will help us continue to go into the fall with COVID being kept at manageable levels.”
Di Monte said there were still appointments available locally in the provincial booking system through to July 20.
He also plugged the city’s new waitlist tool, which can see residents sign up daily to take an unclaimed shot at a community clinic if one is available later that same day.
The city said later Wednesday afternoon that nearly 1,800 people have gotten last-minute vaccine appointments since the waitlist launched on June 21. More than 45,500 people have registered in total since that time, with first-dose seekers prioritized.
On Tuesday alone, 6,311 people were registered on the waitlist and 1,474 test messages were sent out with appointment offers, to which 942 people said they would take the opportunity.
“I think it’s a great method, too, if you want to move up,” Di Monte said.
Meanwhile, OPH reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday as the number of active cases in the community dropped to 81.
The long-running COVID-19 outbreak at the city-run Centre D’Accueil Champlain long-term care home was also declared over in the past 24 hours. That outbreak, which began on May 19, saw 42 people test positive and one resident die in connection with the virus, according to OPH.