As a COVID-19 outbreak at a Kingston hospital grows, Kingston’s associate medical officer of health is urging residents to get vaccinated.
“The vast majority of our recent cases have been in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated folks. So, again, it just reinforces the fact that the vaccines work and also to please do go get vaccinated,” Dr. Hugh Guan said in a media briefing Thursday.
Guan announced two more cases linked to an outbreak at Kingston General Hospital, which now has seven staff members, seven patients and three secondary contacts testing positive for the disease. That means 17 of the region’s 20 active cases are related to that one hospital outbreak.
He said all signs are pointing to an Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant outbreak.
Guan said some individuals who have recently tested positive for the virus do have double doses, but their symptoms are generally milder or non-existent.
Many have taken to social media to express their concerns that so many health-care workers have been affected by the outbreak, worrying about vaccine uptake among hospital workers.
Guan said he could not comment on the vaccination status of the health-care workers who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“I would hope that the vast majority of health-care workers are two-dose vaccinated. Again, I hope that 100 per cent of our population are two-dose vaccinated, but we kind of all know that people may have a lot of different reasons of why they don’t want to get vaccinated,” Guan said.
Wednesday, Global News spoke with Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s Elizabeth Bardon, who acts as the hospital’s COVID-19 incident commander, about their employees’ vaccination status.
She said when it comes to hospital staff, all are given access to the vaccine, but tracking who is vaccinated is challenging.
“The hospital does not have access automatically to someone’s vaccination status,” Bardon said.
“Even if they’ve gotten vaccinated at our own clinic, it goes into the provincial system. So we are asking all of our staff to provide proof of their vaccination status to the occupational health department so that we can verify that they have completed their full two doses of vaccine.”
When asked if he expected to see the hospital outbreak grow, Guan said it was still early days in the investigation, and would not say it was under control.
As of Thursday, more than 78 per cent of those over 12 have received their first dose, and 49 per cent of that population has received their second. Guan says the Kingston region is doing well locally, but he wants to see the momentum continue.
Elsewhere, Guan urged anyone who attended a large street party on Aberdeen Street this weekend to go get tested if symptoms arise.
“We don’t know what we don’t know, right? If people don’t get tested, then we won’t know if they have COVID or not,” Guan said.
He also noted that the region has had a fourth case of the Delta variant identified, in a case that has already resolved.
— With files from Global News’ Megan King.View link »