Get Any Dose, Any Time, as Public Health Winds Down Vax Clinics in August

In nearly seven months, the local COVID-19 vaccination effort has gone from a desperate quest to get more doses to the appearance that this widespread vaccination effort is nearing completion. On Thursday, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health announced that they will start winding down their mass vaccination clinics next month, and if you’re planning on staying in a dorm this school year, you better get to one fast!

“Local vaccination clinics have done their job exceptionally well; more than 80 per cent of people have had a first dose and more than 60 per cent have already had their second dose,” said Rita Isley, Director of Community Health and Chief Nursing Officer, in a statement. “I encourage people to take advantage of the thousands of available appointments at our clinics before we move to the next phase. These last few weeks of our mass clinics are the easiest way to get your shot.”

Starting now, all Public Health and partner clinics are open for drop-in appointments for both first and second doses; so no pre-registration, and  no booking of appointments in advance is needed.

Mass vaccination clinics will begin to close on August 6 starting with the one operated by the Guelph Family Health Team at the University Centre on the University of Guelph campus. The clinic at the Skyjack plant at 201 Woodlawn Road West will then close on August 11, while the remaining clinics at the Alder Arena in Orangeville, the Centre-Wellington Community Sportsplex in Fergus, and the West End Recreation Centre here in Guelph will close on August 20.

“Although we would love 100 per cent of individuals to be vaccinated, we recognize that 100 per cent will probably not be attainable,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer told the Guelph Politicast this week. “What really is important is trying to make sure that we have as many people vaccinated as we possibly can. As we move forward [COVID] is going to become a vaccine preventable disease, meaning that people who are vaccinated don’t get sick or don’t get COVID.”

As of Thursday, 80.4 per cent of people eligible in Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph have received at last one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 64 per cent now have been fully vaccinated. When taking into account the total population, 69.5 per cent of all residents have received one dose while 55.4 per cent have received both doses. In Guelph alone 86.2 per cent of the eligible population have gotten one shot, and just less that 71 per cent have gotten two.

In all, Public Health and their partners have given out nearly 385,000 shots. According to the vaccine dashboard, more than two out of five shots, or 43.4 per cent, have been given out at one of Public Health’s clinics, while one-third of shots have been through partner-led clinics like the one at the University of Guelph. The remaining 23 per cent of shots have been given out at pharmacies or doctor’s offices.

“I want to thank the extraordinary partners who made this possible: Linamar, University of Guelph, The Guelph Family Health Team, and municipal partners throughout the region,” said Mercer in a statement. “More than 375,000 doses have been administered locally; an incredible feat that could not have been achieved without this team.”

The effort to get everyone vaccinated will take on extra urgency if you’re planning on staying in residence at a post-secondary institution in September. The University of Guelph has joined a number of other schools who have announced that if you want to stay on campus in a dorm room, then you are going to have to be vaccinated.

“Our goal is to provide students with a welcoming and enjoyable campus living and learning experience while ensuring safe interactions,” said U of G president Dr. Charlotte Yates in a statement. “As a strong community partner, the University wants to encourage continuation of this upward trend, including among students entering or returning to the region.”

The U of G said that the decision was made in consultation with the university’s leadership team, public health officials, and other scientists, and also with the recommendation of our own local Public Health Unit. A letter from Mercer to Yates explained in no uncertain terms that the best way to protect the campus community was to have as many people as possible living on campus fully vaccinated.

Requiring vaccinations for students living in residence is consistent with the best current scientific understanding of COVID19 and the University’s mission to improve life,” Mercer wrote in the letter. “Making this a requirement in residence will help all members of campus return to a more normal campus experience and avoid a serious surge in cases this fall, especially in these congregate settings.”

The University of Guelph is insisting that any students planning to live campus be fully vaccinated at least 30 days before checking in to residence. Move-in Day is usually the Saturday before Labour Day, so that means students will have to have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by August 5.

For everyone else planning to be on campus for classes this fall, they have to be fully vaccinated 14 days before the start of the school year. If you arrive on campus with one dose, you will have to make arrangements to get your second shot as soon as possible, and if you haven’t even received one shot, you have to get your first dose within seven days of arrival. Vaccines will be made available to students through the Student Health Centre, and medical exemptions will be made for students that can’t get vaccinated with appropriate documentation.

The rules will apply to all campus residences except the U of G’s two family housing communities in at College Avenue and Wellington Woods. Students will receive all these details through their U of G email addresses.

“The health of our community is a shared responsibility, and we appreciate the support shown by the entire U of G community as we remain committed to doing our part in fighting COVID-19,” Yates said.

The University of Guelph joined other area post-secondary institutions Wilfred Laurier University, and Conestoga College on Thursday in insisting that all students living on campus be fully vaccinated ahead of moving in this September.

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