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Hamilton needs tens of thousands of vaccines in arms to reach ‘last mile’ target

Public health says it's "hyper local" vaccine strategy is likely to see challenges getting tens of thousands of vaccines into the arms of Hamiltonians. Global News

Hamilton still needs to get tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses into arms to meet the Ford government’s “Last Mile Strategy” goal of 90 per cent fully vaccinated, according to public health.

During the city’s board of health update on Monday, health officials told city councillors that in order to reach the province’s mandate for first and second doses, Hamilton will need to put roughly 29,000 first doses into residents’ arms and another 55,000 second doses.

As of Monday, close to 80 percent of the city’s eligible population over 12 years have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the inoculation campaign began in late 2020.

Read more: Board of health unanimously supports application for second CTS site in Hamilton

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Over 84 per cent of Hamiltonians have had at least a single shot.

Second shots among all residents in Ontario are at 83.2 per cent as of Monday, putting Hamilton behind 30 of the 34 public health units in the province.

So far, only one health unit has surpassed the provincial target — Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District, which has 94 per cent of its estimated 170,000 people fully vaccinated. Seven regions have surpassed 90 per cent in single doses as of Tuesday.

As of Monday, the campaign’s pace has been increasing by approximately 0.5 per cent in first dose coverage each week and about one per cent in second dose coverage per seven days.

The city has reached over 90 per cent in second doses with much of it’s seniors population, between 70 and 84 years, but challenged with those between 25 and 29 — of whom only 68.4 per cent have had a second jab.

Some good news in public health’s “hyper local” approach is the deployment of clinics into forward sortation areas (FSA) where uptake has been low in comparison with other sectors of the city.

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According to program manager Melissa Biksa, between September and October a number of lower central areas that have been problematic are now seeing positive changes in the rates.

“L8L, which is at Hamilton’s urban FSA that needs the greatest number of doses to achieve 90 per cent coverage, has increased its first and second dose coverage among the eligible population by two point nine and four point five percentage points, respectively,” Biksa said.

Hamilton public health said teen clinics that began administering COVID-19 vaccines in areas of the city with low uptake have seen noticeable gains in recent months toward the province’s 90 percent vaccinated initiative. City of Hamilton

 

By all accounts, the city’s medical officer of health suggested the tens of thousands now needed to reach the province’s last mile target will be a bigger challenge than the 850,000 jabs that have already been given out.

The vaccination strategy’s challenges with rural areas, such as L0R in Flamborough, continues to be small percentage changes month over month in uptake.

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Dr. Elizabeth Richardson characterized the rural struggle as one that works on changing minds about the benefits and efficacy of getting vaccinated.

“It’s quite a complicated decision for them to go through and decide about having a vaccine,” Richardson said.

“What their particular medical issues are, is what we’ve heard from some people.”

Read more: Ontario science table supports COVID-19 vaccine mandates for hospital workers

Public health expects demands for vaccines to increase once again as the city’s five- to 11-year-olds become eligible for shots in the late fall/early winter.

Also, putting strain on the campaign will be the distribution of third dose “booster” shots to older high risk populations and the immunocompromised, like some cancer patients.

So far the city has administered over 5,000 third doses as mid-October with about 74 per cent hitting long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and cancer clinics.

Overall vaccinations rebounded on Monday with 858 doses administered compared to Thanksgiving Day when only 169 shots were put in Hamiltonians arms.

Over the last week, city clinics have seen a drop of about 22 per cent in overall doses administered between Oct. 12 and Oct.18.

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Last Monday, Thanksgiving Day, saw an 88.53 per cent drop compared with the same day the previous week.

 

Hamilton reports 18 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday

Hamilton’s seven day average number of new COVID cases held steady at 23 for the fourth day in a row according to public health data from Oct. 19.

The city reported just 18 new cases on Tuesday and a drop in active cases day over day from 181 to 174.

About 34 per cent of those active cases involve residents under the age of 30.

Read more: Ontario reports 328 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths

Of Ontario’s 328 new cases recorded on Tuesday, the province revealed that more than half were unvaccinated people (177), 16 partially vaccinated, 105 fully vaccinated and for 30 people the vaccination status was unknown.

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During Tuesday’s pandemic update, Hamilton’s MOH said the bulk of the city’s new cases is in line with what’s happening across the province to those who have not had vaccine shots.

“Also a small proportion among those that are partially vaccinated, mostly because that’s a very short period of time for most people. So there’s a very small number there and then only a small number of vaccinated,” Richardson said.

Public health reveled three new outbreaks day over day with the largest involving a wedding reception at Copetown Woods Golf Club in Hamilton’s west side.

Officials say six cases are tied to attendees at the Saturday, Oct. 9, event.

Read more: Public health says 4th wave likely ‘averted’ in Hamilton but COVID-19 will still be around

The two other new outbreaks reported were at Gatestone Elementary Public School, and manufacturer Karma Candy Inc. Each reported two cases each.

As of Monday, Hamilton had seven outbreaks tied to 22 total cases. Three are at schools involving 5 student cases and one with a staffer.

There were three new COVID-related hospitalizations reported by the city’s two networks, St. Joe’s and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), day over day.

Combined the two have 33 patients with 11 in intensive care units (ICU).

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