COVID-19: Ontario's top doctor says province needs highest level of immunization possible

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health says the push to get people vaccinated must continue and he would like to see 90 per cent of the eligible population immunized as the threat of Delta looms.

In Ontario, over 8 million people have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Kieran Moore said in a media briefing on Tuesday there are approximately 2.5 million people in Ontario who are eligible for the vaccine but have not yet received it.

“The call today was really for the million individuals to come forward and get immunized,” said Dr. Moore.

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“The highest rate we have will allow our society to return to a more normal state — a post-pandemic era — with less fear because there will be less risk of the virus spreading in our communities, spreading to vulnerable populations, spreading in long-term care facilities or overwhelming our health system.”

On Tuesday, the province reported 127 new cases of COVID-19 and more than 132,000 doses have been administered across Ontario.

Two more people died on Monday, bringing the total number of people dead to 9,296.

The government reported 18,338,512 COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses have been administered across Ontario to date, and of that total, 8,042,242 had two doses. In total, 132,963 people were inoculated on Monday.

While the numbers are headed in the right direction, Dr. Moore said he was worried to see the increase of Delta cases in other parts of the world, including the United States.

“I am concerned and monitoring Delta’s activity across the southern United States, across the UK and elsewhere of its potential rise in the fall,” he said.

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On Tuesday during a U.S. Senate hearing, infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said the Delta variant makes up 80 per cent of new U.S. COVID-19 cases, while in Australia, a third state announced lockdown rules to combat the COVID-19 Delta variant spread.

“To me, as a public health physician, it’s all about prevention, prevention, prevention,” said Dr. Moore.

“The goal for us is to have the highest level immunization possible and I absolutely want to do that through a voluntary means. Ontarians have been wonderful; eight out of 10 eligible Ontarians have stepped up and gotten their first doses and we are close to having that same number of second doses.

“Now that we have Delta as our main threat internationally and it’s over 80 per cent of samples that we have detected in Ontario … we need a slightly higher percentage than what we set as a previous goal.”

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On Friday, Ontario entered Step 3 of its reopening plan and it is slated to last for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of those eligible, aged 12 and older, have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 75 per cent are fully immunized with both doses.

Dr. Moore was asked if the province would consider implementing incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated, but he said he would like to exhaust other options first.

“I think we have time yet to try and use as many means as possible before we have to move to incentives and or any other policy approach,” he said, adding that some public health units have expanded ways to reach out to the general public.

“I’ve heard of some health units have buses going to beaches, working at malls, trying to get the message out to younger populations that have a lower immunization rates. … The virus just can’t spread when we have high immunization rates.”

— with files from Nick Westoll and Reuters

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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