A higher-efficiency pod model for the mass immunization clinic in Cayuga was implemented over the weekend, allowing for a significant increase in the number of vaccinations per day.
“On a full day we could get up to about 2,000 people through in one day,” said Sarah Page, chief paramedic for Norfolk County and vaccine team lead. “It’s easier for infection control practices and flow of people through the arena, and allows us to have about the same number of staff to immunize almost four times as many people.”
Page noted that by the end of this week vaccinations at the Cayuga clinic should reach 1,200 per day.
To date, about 48 per cent of the adult population in Haldimand and Norfolk counties have received vaccinations, while provincial figures indicate it’s closer to 57 per cent as some people booked appointments outside of the two counties.
“With the province pledging a two-dose summer, that means they’ll be shortening the time between first and second doses,” Page said. “All healthcare workers and those over the age of 80 are now eligible to book their second doses.”
She went on to say that by June 14, those over the age of 70 will be able to book their second dose, as long as it’s 28 days past the date of their first dose.
“The recommendation we would make as a health unit and a vaccine team that individuals should take the earliest appointment they can get,” said epidemiologist Dr. Kate Bishop-Williams. “If they are able to book themselves online or call through the provincial system to book an appointment, we would encourage them to do that.”
She said health unit staff is still working through the call list to make sure no one is missed.
Youth age 12 to 17 will be able to receive vaccinations at multiple clinics across Haldimand and Norfolk counties during the weeks of June 14 and 21.
Page noted that some clinics would have more amenable family hours, such as from noon to 8 p.m. and on some weekends to encourage working families to attend with their children.
Bishop-Williams said that while children under the age of 12 won’t be vaccinated, being in schools where older students and teachers have been immunized will put them in a much safer position.
“Those parents who are nervous about sending children who are less than 12 back to school should tell everyone around you who is eligible, to receive their vaccine,” said the epidemiologist. “That’s their contribution to making schools safe for those not old enough to be vaccinated yet.”
Dr. Alexander Hukowich, the interim acting medical officer of health for the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit, said he hopes that vaccine manufacturers will soon submit data from trials on younger children showing the efficacy and safety of the vaccines.
“There’s no reason why they wouldn’t be safe (and effective) in younger children,” he said, adding that the National Advisory Commission on Immunization has recently updated its vaccine statements to indicate the use of vaccines in pregnant women and immune-compromised individuals is safe.
Bishop-Williams said the slow but steady decline in the seven-day rolling average – now at 5.5 new cases per day – couldn’t be achieved without the community following public health measures that have been put in place.
“Almost all of the new cases in the past week involve a variant of concern,” she said. “This is incredibly important for us to recognize, as these cases have a higher risk of more severe outcome. They are now the dominant trend in new cases in our community.”