More and more we’re hearing the words “sixth wave”, so if we’re seeing another increase in COVID-19 cases, then we need a reaction from our local public health unit, right? On Wednesday, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health announced an expansion of who’s eligible for a fourth vaccine dose, while Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer tried to assure the Board of Health that things are in hand.
On Wednesday morning, WDG Public Health announced that they were following direction from the Government of Ontario to expand fourth doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to all adults over 60 years old, as well as any First Nations Inuit or Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over. Until now, just long-term care and retirement home residents, as well as those who are immunocompromised, were eligible.
“I am pleased our provincial vaccination program continues to follow the emerging evidence on vaccines,” Mercer said in a statement. “We know that immune response begins to wane over time. Making additional doses available will help us continue to protect the most vulnerable residents of our region.”
The media release said that public health is increasing capacity at local clinics over the next several weeks to accommodate people. If you want to make an appointment to get a fourth dose, visit Public Health’s web-based booking system or call 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7006 anytime Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.
Coincidentally, this announcement came on the same day as the monthly Board of Health meeting, and although the members themselves all appeared virtually, the Public Health staff members were all broadcasting from the same room. That example of normalcy was somewhat muted by the growing number of COVID cases in the community that Mercer said was not unexpected given the removal of mask mandates.
“If you check on our our website, you will see our rates have gone up, and for the people in the hospital those rates have gone up a little bit, but not as dramatically, and currently, we have no individuals from our area in the ICU,” Mercer explained.
“As we’re into the sixth wave, we’ll continue to see the cases go up, but the most important indicator, and I would really encourage people to be more mindful of it, is the severity indicator, and that’s hospitalizations and deaths,” Mercer continued. “We’re not seeing those indicators right now change dramatically. So that’s a good sign, but we will continue to see COVID spreading in our community, particularly the BA.2 variant.”
Mercer said that vaccinations continue to be the “foundation” of preventing community spread of COVID-19, and that includes people who have not yet gotten their third shot. She also noted that there are more treatment options, which are available within the first five days you’re symptomatic. Last, but certainly not least, Mercer said keep wearing your mask.
“I’m sitting in a room right now with a number of other individuals and wearing a mask. This is our public health policy. Masks are appropriate when you are unable to be physically distant in crowded, closed environments or indoor environments,” Mercer said.
“The pandemic is not going away, it’s still with us, and there are things we can all do to keep ourselves safer as we go through the remainder of this pandemic,” she added.