NWHU hits vaccine milestone

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer
ntrivuncic@fortfrances.com

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) has hit a milestone. NWHU and local partners have now given over 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. This is a milestone for the region as 78.4 per cent of the area’s adults aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 64.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, said due to forest fires, some NWHU clinics have been affected.

Sioux Lookout’s July 14 and 22 clinics will now be held at Sacred Heart School. All appointments remain the same, but the clinic location has changed. Red Lake’s July 14 and 15 clinics are postponed due to a potential evacuation. All appointments will be moved to a new date to be announced.

Along with good vaccination rates and no active cases in the region is the excitement surrounding stage 3 of the province’s reopening, which will allow for indoor dining with no limits to the number of people per table, outdoor social gatherings and public events up to 100 people, indoor social gatherings and public events up to 25 people, indoor sports, recreational fitness facilities, cinemas, concert, theatres, and other performing arts venues with capacity limits.

“I think we’re all very happy to be moving into step three,” Young Hoon said. “Our case numbers are low. And our vaccination rates are similar to the province at this time. I think moving up to step three is good for our general catchment area and I encourage people to take the moment to enjoy it.”

Young Hoon said although this is an exciting time, it is important to continue to follow restrictions and consider the risk of the activities they choose to participate in.

The likelihood of being exposed to COVID-19 increases when you interact with more people, Young Hoon said, adding that being fully vaccinated changes your risk of catching COVID-19 and getting ill, but it does not change your risk of being exposed to the virus.

“Choosing safe activities to participate in will affect your risk of being exposed to COVID-19. Factors to consider when choosing activities include your age and personal health status, the age and health status of those around you, COVID-19 activity levels in your community, what settings and activities you’re engaging in,” Young Hoon said.

The safest activities include things such as outdoor activities with members of your household or small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people, Young Hoon adds.

Young Hoon said they are continuing to encourage people to get vaccinated as it is one of the key ways of keeping yourself, your family and community safe.

“We do need higher vaccination rates if we want to prevent the spread of COVID-19 moving forward in the fall, so now’s the time for people to get vaccinated,” Young Hoon said. “The mass immunization clinics are still up and running and we are encouraging people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the overall community.”