EOHU reaches 85 per cent first dose vaccination goal

By Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
EOHU reaches 85 per cent first dose vaccination goal
Seaway News stock image of a nurse preparing a vaccine.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Eastern Ontario Health Unit region reached another interim goal last week with 85 per cent of the population age 12 and older having received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said that means the region is on its way to 90 per cent, which is considered herd immunity.

“We just want to make sure these people who got the first dose get their second dose as well,” he said. “We’re looking at progress though.”

He said that 75 per cent of the 12-17 year old age group now has received their first vaccine dose.

To reach Roumeliotis’ 90 per cent goal, also known as the “last mile” the health unit needs to vaccinate another 8,228 people. Additionally there are over 25,700 people under the age of 12 in the region who are too young to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

The EOHU reported an increase over the weekend of 25 cases for the region. Of the new cases, Roumeliotis said that most cases are clusters of known contacts from households or family.  He said that local cases are starting to flatten again, but it is something the health unit continues to monitor.

A number of schools have reported positive COVID-19 cases since classes returned just over a week ago.

“I want to stress that these cases started literally outside the school,” Roumeliotis explained adding that up until now there has been no confirmed spread of the virus in the school setting. “Once we have identification of cases in a school, the system works very well and there really is minimal transmission.”

Roumeliotis said that an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the region in August was in school-aged children (ages 4-18), so the cases that are diagnosed are not a surprise.

In January, only 13.5 per cent of COVID-19 infections were in school age children, that increased to 26 per cent in June, and 29.2 per cent by August.

“What we see in the schools is exactly what we see in the community,” he said.

No English-language schools in Dundas County have reported active cases.

The Upper Canada District School Board reported as of September 14, six of its 79 schools have one active COVID-19 case each. Most of those schools are open except for Viscount Alexander PS in Cornwall. That school was closed on Monday while contact tracing was performed. According to the EOHU, half of the school’s 22 classrooms were reopened Tuesday while the remaining classes stayed closed for monitoring.

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario reported on September 14 fewer than five cases in four of its 50 schools in the board. Two of the schools have one classroom each closed.

Of the 72 active cases reported by the health unit on September 14, 91 per cent are people who are not fully-vaccinated or are unvaccinated. That is above the provincial average of 80 per cent of cases being in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals.

Two people are hospitalized with COVID-19, neither are in ICU. There have been no additional deaths reported in the past seven days in the region. No long-term care facilities report any outbreaks either.

Of the 25 new cases, six were in Cornwall, six in Prescott-Russell, and 13 were in SDG County. No new cases have been added to South Dundas and North Dundas, both of which have two active cases each remaining.

COVID-19 vaccinations are available at all six EOHU offices in the health unit, and at many pharmacies including Gilmer Pharmacy in Iroquois and Seaway Valley Pharmacy in Morrisburg.

This article was originally written for, and appeared in The Morrisburg Leader.

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