Effects of vaccination efforts registering locally — A milestone we can all share
For the first time since March, the local health unit is reporting no new local COVID-19 cases.
Today marks the first time since March 23, 2021 that the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) is reporting zero new cases of COVID-19. Prior to March, the last time zero cases were reported was November 29, 2020.
“Although we recognize this does not mean the pandemic is over, it is certainly milestone worth celebrating,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit. “Like other areas of the province, we saw a spike in local cases as part of the third wave, so this decrease is a welcome sight.”
There are many reasons why there has been a decrease in cases, Dr. Bocking says, including people following the public health recommendations to wear a mask, maintain a physical distance from others, and staying home when ill. But she credits the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine as a key piece in helping to bring the numbers down and applauds everyone for their work in either helping to vaccinate residents or for getting vaccinated themselves. As of June 21, 73 per cent of HKPR residents 12 years of age and older have had at least one dose of vaccine.
“It’s very encouraging to see so many of our residents committed to getting fully vaccinated against COVID,” Dr. Bocking says. “We know many people are eagerly looking for appointments to either book their second dose or receive their second dose sooner. We will continue to be adding more clinics to the provincial booking system as we receive additional vaccine in the coming months.”
Dr. Bocking also reminds residents that there are now multiple options for residents wanting to be vaccinated. With pharmacies, hospitals, community health centres and family health teams all now offering vaccination appointments, Dr. Bocking says there are options for everyone.
“This milestone is really a celebration that we can all share,” she says. “There are many partners and volunteers working together to support the vaccination of our residents, and everyone is to be congratulated and thanked.”
“Let’s keep up the good work so that we can continue to see more vaccinations, fewer cases and an opportunity to enjoy the summer.”
Delay in Vaccine Delivery Prompts Shift in Clinic Planning
The provincial government this weekend notified health units that the shipments of Pfizer vaccine that were expected this week have been delayed.
As a result, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has reviewed its vaccine allocation to ensure that the mass immunization clinics that have been planned, and the appointments that have been booked, will be kept.
As of June 21, adults aged 18+ who have an appointment booked at one of the HKPR mass immunization clinics this week will be offered the Moderna (mRNA) vaccine. Youth aged 12 to 17 will still receive the Pfizer vaccine as it is the only vaccine currently approved for that age group.
As per the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidance, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines can be interchanged for first and second doses. Based on local vaccine availability, people may be offered a different brand of mRNA vaccine for their second dose.
“The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are both mRNA vaccines and the way in which they trigger an immune response is nearly identical,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Real world evidence to date has shown that receiving a different vaccine for first and second doses is safe and does not provide any less protection.”
With the Delta variant increasing in some regions of the province, Dr. Bocking says it is important that people get their second dose as soon as they are able to get an appointment and receive either vaccine as protection. The Delta variant is more transmissible compared to other variants and having two doses of a COVID vaccine offers increased protection against this variant.
“With the delay in delivery of Pfizer vaccine this week, it highlights the importance of being able to use either mRNA vaccine for second doses,” Dr. Bocking says. “I would encourage people to continue to get their second doses so they have greater protection.”
Last week, the province made the following announcements about the timing of second doses:
- • As of today, all Ontarians who received their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 9, 2021 are eligible to book or rebook their second dose appointment at a shortened interval.
- • Starting the week of June 28, 2021, all Ontarians aged 18 and over who have received their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine will be eligible to book their second dose appointment. The appointment will be scheduled at least 28 days after the first dose, per the recommended interval.
- • In addition, effective June 14, 2021, individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine are also eligible to receive a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at an interval of eight to 12 weeks, with informed consent. This can include a second dose of AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine.