Lambton’s vaccination rate at 77 per cent; is it enough?

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Lambton’s medical officer of health is wondering if it will be enough.

Right now, Lambton County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the province with 77 per cent of eligible people vaccinated against COVID-19. The provincial rate is over 83 per cent.

Lambton, and other regions with lower vaccination rates, have higher rates of COVID-19 in the community. When Dr. Sudit Ranade talked to reporters Thursday, 23 more cases had been reported in Lambton; six are from close contacts – usually people who are living with someone already confirmed to have the virus, six haven’t been determined, one is from an existing outbreak and in 10 of the cases, public health can’t trace back the source of the infection.

Public health officials say in the past month, people have reported contracting COVID at home or social gatherings, schools, weddings, and places of worship. The majority of local cases, officials said, are in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people, and the close contacts identified with those cases continue to be high. For the week of Sept 26 to Oct 2, public identified 81 new cases and 677 new contacts.

Right now, 98 people are ill with COVID-19 in the county. But only two people are in the hospital because of COVID. The virus is most common in people under 19 in Lambton. There are 12 people in Lambton’s schools with COVID-19 including three at Plympton-Wyoming Public School.

Ranade says the province needs to look at what rate of vaccination will not only stop the spread of the virus which has affected the globe, it has to see what rate of vaccination will be enough to keep the unvaccinated people from inundating the hospitals in Ontario.

“I tell you what I’m worried about is the unvaccinated population, because that is the majority of the people that we are seeing now who has to get the disease and who have severe disease,” says Ranade.

“I’m much more concerned about the ability of our health system to withstand the impact of unvaccinated people filling up ICU, because I look over at Manitoba and I look over at Alberta, and I look over at Saskatchewan and I say ‘Are we just a few weeks or months away from that situation?’ And if we are, then that is a much more compelling reason to get everybody vaccinated.”

Ranade says Lambton’s vaccination rate is inching up, mostly because of employer vaccination policies or the vaccine passport system the province started Sept. 22.

“There are more people coming into our clinic saying ‘I’m getting this vaccine, either because I need it for my employment or because I needed in order to do things that I want to do with my life.'”

But Ranade doubts Lambton will ever get to the province’s goal of 90 per cent vaccination – at least not without help.

“I don’t think you get to 90 per cent without substantial policy tool, without substantial restriction. So what we’re seeing now is a small uptake, based on different requirements and mandates that are in place, but it will not be enough to get it to 90 per cent.”