Sims: Recall campaign needs a big boost, especially among young kids

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We’ll have to wait until Tuesday to see the latest COVID-19 vaccination statistics for Middlesex-London, but I have a sneaky feeling they won’t be all that different from a week ago.

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Even as vaccination centers have opened their doors to walk-in traffic and community clinics are popping up in schools, from the words and tone of Monday’s health unit press conference, it seems that the current vaccination campaign is stalling and that the finishing line 90 percent with their booster injection is nowhere in sight.

At present, Alex Summers, the acting medical officer of health, has one of the less enviable jobs in the region – trying to engage with a pandemic-weary public who, despite being so anxious and ready for two shots last summer, basically checked this round.

Seniors and quasi-seniors have rolled up their sleeves. However, Summers said less more than 50% of people under 50 have sought their third dose. It drops to 40% among those under 40.

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Summers has previously said that getting weapon boosters will be one of the toughest missions of the pandemic. But that’s surprising, given what’s been at stake since mid-December, when Omicron began tearing up vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Another frustrating element is “significant slowing of vaccine uptake” among children ages 5 to 11, Summers said. In other words, parents and their young children are the pacifiers.

“I think what we’re slowly hearing from parents and guardians is that January and early February was a stressful and busy time and going out for vaccinations wasn’t always a priority,” Summers said.

What else is holding some back? Some fear a repeat of the side effects of fatigue and chills they felt when they took the first two shots – side effects that Summers says are “remarkably better than being infected with COVID-19 , as anyone can attest.

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And he assured parents that it is increasingly clear that the vaccine is “safe and effective” for children.

I fear it will be even more difficult to convince people now that children are back in school, some restrictions have finally eased and we are seeing a drop in hospitalizations and local case numbers. To be clear, the number of cases does not accurately reflect the amount of COVID-19 in circulation, as only a fraction of the population is eligible to be tested.

Summers rightly pointed out that if the health unit had reported 105 cases, as it did Monday, say, in October, when we had about 15 cases a day, we would have been in shock.

However, the past two months have desensitized us to the benefits of vaccination. Add to that the general frustration with the restrictions and a public debate focused more on politics than on health.

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So kudos to Summers for giving another pitch on Monday, even though some of what he had to say probably went down like a lead balloon. The number of cases is gradually decreasing, “but this number of cases remains higher than at any other time during the pandemic”, he said – which means that there is still work to be done.

“The booster dose is the best chance you can give yourself and your community to reduce the transmission of COVID-19,” he said. “As public health measures are rolled back and things start to get back to normal, we are likely to see a resurgence in cases.”

If more boosters take up arms over the next three to four weeks, “we will position ourselves even better as a region and as a province to continue our favorable trajectory and see a reduction in the transmission of COVID-19 in our community. said Summers.

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Until that happens, he is firmly on the side of not easing restrictions early and wants the province to wait. “I don’t think that’s in the cards, I think the 21-day interval between extending restrictions is critical for us to fully understand the impact of removing restrictions,” Summers said.

The health office is therefore trying to make it as easy as possible, especially for families, to boost and vax. Major clinics are open and the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service continues to roll out its mobile services across the county. And there will be more community school clinics in under-vaccinated areas.

It’s still a big rock to push up the hill. Without more vaccines, this rock could fall on us.

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