As more Ukrainian refugees arrive in the region, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPRDHU) is hosting several vaccination clinics for them in Northumberland County.
At Thursday’s board of health meeting, medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking said the clinics were well-attended and well-received, although details of where and when the clinics were taking place weren’t provided.
The clinics are through a partnership with Northumberland for Ukraine, where families are directly referred to a liaison at the health unit to review their vaccination records (if available) and set up appointment times.
These clinics are aimed at ensuring children are up to date with vaccinations for school attendance in the area.
The COVID-19 vaccine is also being offered to all family members.
Bocking said a full update on these vaccination clinics will be provided at the next board meeting next month.
Bocking also provided a full COVID-19 update for HKPRDHU’s jurisdiction at the board meeting.
“I do think we can say we’re on the downside of the wave. The downslope. We, I believe, have peaked in this region and provincially as well,” Bocking said.
“The number of daily cases identified has really halved in the last two weeks. The number of active outbreaks has decreased (12) but is still significant. We’re still seeing a steady stream of hospital admissions.”
The health unit is now reporting a test positivity seven-day average of 10.1 per cent, down from as high as 23 per cent earlier this year.
COVID-19 in wastewater surveillance is decreasing in Cobourg, but has increased in Lindsay, Bocking reports.
In terms of continued measures, Bocking is recommending residents stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, including first and second boosters (if eligible), staying home if you’re sick or have symptoms, wearing a mask in indoor spaces (especially if they are crowded) and avoiding large, crowded indoor gatherings.
“Certainly people who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19 need to take more precautions than other individuals,” Bocking said.
“At this point in time, there is still Omicron variant circulating. We are still seeing new infections and new hospital admissions. I’m still recommending people wear masks in indoor settings.”
HKPRDHU is still reporting a lower uptake of the first booster dose in its jurisdiction.
“There are still over 11,000 individuals eligible for their first booster dose,” Bocking said.
Bocking also said she’s heard there’s a sense among residents that they’re going to get Omicron anyway, so why get the vaccine?
“It’s one rationale that I’ve heard. Another is, ‘We might just wait until the fall. There’s going to be another booster dose in the fall; we’ll wait for that one. Maybe it will be a vaccine with both flu and COVID in it, so we’ll get one shot.’ I still recommend that if you’re eligible for a first or second booster dose, you get it now,” she said.
“Yes, the vaccines do not fully protect against infection, but they are very protective and are very good at preventing severe illness. Not 100 per cent, but very good — upwards of 85 to 90 per cent.”
There are 25 health unit-led clinics in May (still 2,100 open appointments) and 21 clinics planned for June.
There have been 10 GoVaxx Bus visits in May and there will be 19 more in June.
Bocking reports that all school-based clinics for five- to 11-year-olds are now complete, with 51 schools visited for a total of 99 clinics and 868 doses provided.
She also said the health unit is now preparing for fall boosters.