NWHU reaches vaccine milestone

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) has crossed another vaccination milestone, with more than 80 per cent of those aged 18 and older in the region having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, 67 per cent of people aged 12 and older in the region have received two doses of the vaccine.

Recent data released from public health Ontario shows that for over 10 million vaccinated individuals, only 0.16 per cent became infected when they were partially vaccinated. And only .02 per cent became infected when they were fully vaccinated.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, asks that anyone who still requires their first or second dose make an appointment to get their shots as soon as possible.

There are currently two active cases, both in the Rainy River region.

Young Hoon said she is pleased to see the trend of low case numbers continue but said the public must still be cautious – especially as we enter fall.

“We must prepare now for the cooler weather which leads to more time indoors and typically more respiratory illnesses circulating,” Young Hoon said. “It is likely we will see an increase in cases in the fall months and the vaccine can help to protect you and your loved ones. By getting the vaccine now, you will be protected when or if cases increase.”

The concern for the public to get vaccinated is also important as cases of the Delta variant continue to rise across the province. Young Hoon said this is an issue that health officials are concerned about.

“An increasing proportion of the cases in Ontario are the Delta variant,” Young Hoon said. “The Delta variant is known to be more transmissible so this can lead to increase in hospitalizations and increase in deaths. If we do see an increase in the Delta variance across Ontario and in our catchment area that can have a negative effect on our healthcare system.”

Young Hoon adds that this could also lead to reinstatements of public health restrictions and one of the key ways in preventing that is getting vaccinated.

“We do know that with two doses of the vaccine, there’s good protection against the Delta variance so we are encouraging everyone if you are eligible to get vaccinated,” Young Hoon said.

As we are heading into the last month of summer vacation for students, school is on the back of everyone’s minds – especially how it will look with COVID-19 restrictions.

Young Hoon said the health unit is working closely with school boards to support them as they prepare for the upcoming school year.

Young Hoon said there are a few things to think about as students return to the classroom, one of them being the lack of available vaccines for those who are below the age of 12, adding that the vaccination rates of those who are 12 to 17 is still limited.

The vaccination rate for those aged 12 to 17 is between 60 and 70 per cent. Young Hoon said this percentage is not a good enough protective level to ensure herd immunity of the student population when they return to school. Therefore, there will likely be an ongoing need for masking and physical distancing.

This is the last week in which students can get their first dose of the vaccine and be able to fit in their second dose and still be fully vaccinated for when school starts. Full vaccination is considered to be achieved 14 days after a second dose.

To book an appointment or find out more information about getting a vaccine you can call the NWHU hotline or visit their website.