Hamilton still needs to receive tens of thousands of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to meet the The Ford Administration’s “Last Mile Strategy” target of 90 percent complete vaccination, according to public health.
During the city’s health board update on Monday, health officials told city councilors that to meet the province’s mandate for the first and second doses, Hamilton will need to place approximately 29,000 first doses in the residents’ arms and another 55,000 second doses.
As of Monday, about 80 percent of the city’s eligible population for 12 years has received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the inoculation campaign began in late 2020.
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More than 84 percent of Hamiltonians have had at least one chance.
Second chances among all Ontario residents were at 83.2 percent as of Monday, putting Hamilton behind 30 of the province’s 34 public health units.
So far, only one health unit has exceeded the provincial goal: Leeds, Grenville and the Lanark district, which has 94 percent of its estimated 170,000 people fully vaccinated. Seven regions have exceeded 90 percent in single doses as of Tuesday.
As of Monday, the pace of the campaign has increased by about 0.5 percent in coverage of the first dose every week and about one percent in coverage of the second dose every seven days.
The city has reached more than 90 percent in second doses with much of its population aged 70 to 84, but has challenged those between 25 and 29, of whom only 68.4 percent have had a second hit.
Good news in the “hyperlocal” approach to public health is the deployment of clinics in advanced classification areas (FSA) where uptake has been low compared to other sectors of the city.
According to program manager Melissa Biksa, between September and October, several low core areas that have been problematic are now experiencing positive rate changes.
“L8L, which is located in the Hamilton urban FSA that needs the most doses to achieve 90% coverage, has increased the coverage of the first and second doses among the eligible population by two point nine and four point five percentage points, respectively, “Biksa said.
By all accounts, the city’s medical health officer suggested that the tens of thousands now needed to reach the province’s last mile goal will be a greater challenge than the 850,000 hits that have already been delivered.
Vaccination strategy challenges with rural areas, such as L0R in Flamborough, continue to be small month-to-month percentage changes in adoption.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson characterized the rural struggle as one that works to change minds about the benefits and effectiveness of getting vaccinated.
“It’s a pretty tough decision for them to make the decision to get a vaccine,” Richardson said.
“What are their particular medical problems, is what we have heard from some people.”
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Public health expects the demand for vaccines to rise once again as the city’s five to 11-year-olds become eligible for vaccines in late fall / early winter.
In addition, it will lobby the campaign by distributing third-dose “booster” injections to older, high-risk populations and immunosuppressed individuals, such as some cancer patients.
So far, the city has administered more than 5,000 third doses in mid-October, and about 74 percent have reached long-term care homes, high-risk nursing homes and cancer clinics.
Vaccines overall rebounded Monday with 858 doses given compared to Thanksgiving, when only 169 injections were given to the Hamiltonians’ arms.
Over the past week, clinics in the city have seen a drop of about 22 percent in the total doses administered between October 12 and 18.
Last Monday, Thanksgiving, registered a drop of 88.53 percent compared to the same day the previous week.
63 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, 1 death
Hamilton’s seven-day average number of new COVID cases held steady at 23 for the fourth day in a row according to public health data from October 19.
The city reported just 18 new cases Tuesday and a drop in active cases day-over-day from 181 to 174.
More than 52 percent of those active cases involve residents under the age of 30.
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Of the 328 new cases registered in Ontario on Tuesday, the province revealed that more than half were unvaccinated (177), 16 partially vaccinated, 105 fully vaccinated and for 30 people the vaccination status was unknown.
During Tuesday’s pandemic update, the Hamilton Health Ministry said most of the city’s new cases are in line with what is happening across the province for those who have not received vaccinations.
“Also a small proportion among those who are partially vaccinated, mainly because it is a very short period of time for most people. So there are a very small number there and then only a small number vaccinated, ”Richardson said.
Public health revealed three new outbreaks day after day, the largest involving a wedding reception at Copetown Woods Golf Club on the west side of Hamilton.
Authorities say six cases are linked to attendees at the event on Saturday, October 9.
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The other two new reported outbreaks occurred at Gatestone Public Elementary School and manufacturer Karma Candy Inc. each reported two cases each.
As of Monday, Hamilton had seven outbreaks linked to a total of 22 cases. Three are in schools with 5 student cases and one with a staff member.
There were three new COVID-related hospitalizations reported by the city’s two networks, St. Joe’s and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), day after day.
The two combined have 33 patients with 11 in intensive care units (ICU).
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