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Kingston COVID-19 vaccine uptake slower but steady, says associate medical officer of health

Kingston's associate medical officer of health says reaching the last of those unvaccinated or partially vaccinated could be slow, but he's still seeing steady uptake of the vaccine locally. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

With more than 80 per cent of eligible KFL&A residents vaccinated with their first dose, and more than 65 per cent with their second doses, the region’s associate medical officer of health says people continue to come out in the woodwork for COVID-19 vaccines, but at a slower pace.

“So for first doses, it is a slow, but I would say steady, climb in terms of vaccination rates,” Dr. Hugh Guan said.

As for second doses, Guan said numbers are rising about 0.5 to 1 per cent a day.

Read more: KFL&A Public Health urges people to take advantage of large COVID-19 vaccine supply

Guan said this isn’t anything to worry about, and it’s actually good news that people are still getting vaccinated at a steady pace.

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“We have a few hundred folks getting the first doses about every day or so and if we continue to have that kind of slow but steady increase we will definitely reach much higher vaccination rates,” he said.

He expects to reach national goals to vaccinate somewhere between 85 to 90 per cent of the local population.

He said still, getting the last 10 to 20 per cent of those willing to be vaccinated could be a slog.

“It will require a whole of community effort between all our partners, including primary care, acute care pharmacies, ourselves, (the media), the general public, communicating with family, with friends, with colleagues that vaccines are effective and they’re available for anyone that would like them,” he said.

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Just Monday, the health unit put a call out to the public and the media, urging people to use up the 16,000 vaccination appointments available at its mass vaccination clinics.

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The health unit is also now offering walk-in vaccination clinics that require no appointments for first and second doses to those 12 and up.

The big push as of Thursday is to get youth who can be vaccinated their first doses as soon as possible.

“If they can get their first dose in the next few days, it means that in about a month, they can also get their second dose before school starts,” Guan said.

Overall, Guan said the region is doing well with vaccinations, just about one percentage point over the provincial average for first doses. He hopes that with more options to be vaccinated and fewer restrictions to move around, those who have been hesitant so far will opt for the shot.

‘There’s a lot more supply, so folks are finding it easier to access the vaccine now. But again, if we continue to have that kind of steady trickle of first doses, well, we can get our vaccination rates higher and higher,” he said.

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