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70% of region's COVID cases among unvaccinated

'[The vaccine] is highly effective, it greatly reduces your risk, but it doesn’t completely reduce your risk,' says Dr. Charles Gardner
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A majority of COVID-19 cases in Simcoe-Muskoka are occurring in unvaccinated people, but that will change as more people get the shots. 

Among yesterday’s 15 new cases were eight unvaccinated individuals, four people who were partially vaccinated, and two people who were fully immunized against COVID-19. 

During the week of Aug. 8, the health unit reported 97 new COVID cases, of those infected 70.1 per cent were not immunized, 16.5 per cent were partially immunized and 13.3 per cent were fully immunized.

Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said that breakdown is in line with the pattern he’s observed locally and provincially over the past few weeks. 

“[The vaccine] is highly effective, it greatly reduces your risk, but it doesn’t completely reduce your risk,” said Gardner. “This also speaks to the importance of the other control measures that we have in place and the importance of people using masks.”

Gardner said immunization with two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and/or Moderna) results in an 85 per cent reduction in the individual’s risk of contracting COVID-19 and a 95 per cent reduction in their risk of being hospitalized. 

The two Simcoe County residents currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are in their 60s and 70s and neither has a record of immunization against COVID-19.

“We do expect that we’re going to see cases occurring among some who are immunized,” he said, noting that will change as a higher proportion of the population becomes fully vaccinated. “If you have fewer and fewer people who are not vaccinated, then really the only individuals remaining who could become cases will be those who are immunized.” 

Approximately 62 per cent of the total population of Simcoe-Muskoka district has had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Currently, the region is ranked 14th among the 34 health units in the province for the rate at which the health unit is administering second doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“We are providing vaccination at a higher rate than the province as a whole,” said Gardner, noting the latest daily dosage administration was recorded at 3.6 doses per 1,000 people per day. 

“At the rate of immunization we’re proceeding with, we would expect to have provided second doses for 75 per cent of the eligible population by the end of August,” said Gardner. 

As of today, the eligible population includes anyone turning 12 or older this year. 

Currently, the lowest rates of immunization coverage in the region are among youth and young adults. As of yesterday’s report, about 50 to 60 per cent of people aged 12 to 39 years old have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, whereas the rate is between 85 and 93 per cent for individuals over 60 years old.

Gardner said the health unit is working to provide more regular vaccination status information on new cases, and is working with the province on the terms of its data sharing agreement. 

Public Health Ontario began including vaccination status for new cases and hospitalizations last week. 

“I intend for us to be able to move forward on this hopefully next week,” said Gardner. 

If you’d like to get a COVID-19 vaccine, there are still mass immunization clinics, pop-up clinics, and walk-in spots available in communities throughout Simcoe County and Muskoka District. Visit the health unit website for more information.

Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor. She has 12 years of experience as a local journalist.
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