Haldimand-Norfolk’s new Acting Medical Health Officer (AMOH) says he’s been learning “where the people are” regarding vaccinations between the two counties since he took over the health unit two weeks ago. .
Dr. Matt Strauss officially began his term on September 14 and told the media in a press Monday that his first concern is a “divestment” in vaccines among the 40- to 60-year-old cohort, predicting a ” excess mortality “if the rate does not increase. in the months to come.
As of Monday, about 78 percent of people ages 40 to 60 had been fully immunized against COVID-19, and only 75 percent of people ages 45 to 59 had received two doses of vaccines.
More than 78 percent of Haldimand-Norfolk residents over the age of 12 have been fully immunized against COVID-19 and 83 percent of the eligible population (62,259) have received at least one vaccine.
The region still lags behind the provincial average of 80.5 percent after having received second doses 12 years or more. Coverage for the first dose in Ontario was 86 percent as of Monday.
“I suspect that excess mortality will be seen in that cohort of unvaccinated 40- to 60-year-olds,” Strauss said.
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“The prediction is tense, but I feel pretty confident at that point. So we’re brainstorming as a team on how to reach more people that way, again, leaning on these community partnerships and presentations that I’ve been doing. “
Prior to his appointment, questions about Strauss’s views on the COVID-19 lockdowns shared on social media in recent months were the catalyst for controversy over his appointment by the Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health (BOH ) on July 22.
One post in question included an excerpt from April 9 in which it suggested that COVID-19 shutdowns “are based on fear and coercion,” while another on Aug. 3 suggested that “sooner it would give COVID-19 to your kids than a McDonald’s Happy Meal. ” “
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The issue became controversial when liberal health critic John Fraser called for a veto of Strauss’s appointment, suggesting he opposed “life-saving public health measures” amid the fourth wave of the pandemic.
AMOH’s designee received a vote of confidence the day before his start after the BOH voted unanimously to move on from any further discussion on his appointment.
Strauss says that much of his time in his first two weeks has been spent in meetings with community leaders, religious leaders and family physicians..
He suggests that some of the doubts are likely based on residents not trusting data from medical institutions and not on having had no access to vaccine data.
Maintain trust in health officials
“One of my main interests is how we can meet people where they are, address their specific concerns in the most transparent way possible, ”said Strauss.
The AMOH continued to urge residents with concerns to contact their family doctors for advice that it said would “make a recommendation to get it.”
During Monday’s session, epidemiologist Kate Bishop-Williams said public health models for the region suggest that the impact of a fourth wave could hit early to mid-October.
However, he toned down that assessment, saying current data suggests the region is “doing better” than originally thought.
“I would say there is no reason to believe with our local or provincial or national data at this time that it is not yet ahead, ”Bishop-Williams said.
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“Maybe we’ll have to lean towards some of those slightly less steep or mid-range projections.”
Strauss agreed with the perspective and suggested that COVID-19 was here to stay and that very few will be able to avoid contracting it.
“My priority is to make everyone as safe as possible,” Strauss said.
“With regard to hospital capacity, but also with regard to vaccination. So I think if you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19, that’s fine, but that day is likely to come and that’s where vaccines come in. “
Outbreak at RVilla nursing home in Caledonia
During Monday’s press, Bishop-Williams revealed that an outbreak in a retirement community in Caledonia, linked to fully vaccinated residents, was declared over as of the weekend.
The increase, which began in early September, involved five major cases among residents with “mild symptoms” at the RVilla retirement home on Argyle Street South, which is home to approximately 40 residents.
Bishop-Williams said public health has not yet determined how the virus entered the home.
“It is not clear how the outbreak started. We don’t know what the source of acquisition was for that index case or for that first individual who became symptomatic and then tested positive, ”Bishop-Williams said.
During the outbreak, two people were sent to the hospital for treatment and one was transferred for “additional assistance” due to comorbidity from an illness they already had prior to contracting COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, Haldimand Norfolk has 21 active cases in the region. The region’s seven-day moving average of cases fell this week to 2.1 compared to 3.6 reported last week.
Bishop-Wiliams says the region is currently monitoring two reported outbreaks, one in a workplace and another connected to a bus.
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