By: Steve Bond

Vaccination efforts in Canada hit a milestone last week- for the first time those fully vaccinated surpassed those in the United States. Like the hare and the tortoise, we didn’t start quickly out of the gate but slow and steady has put us ahead. Locally, in the Southwest region, 78.9% have received at least one dose and 53.4% have had two jabs.  While these numbers are impressive and our local health unit, pharmacies and primary care offices should be commended, it leaves 21% without any protection and 46% with limited coverage!  The numbers of infections and hospitalizations in the United States and other countries have started to swell. The majority of those hospitalized are people who were unable or unwilling to be vaccinated.

In Ontario, partially vaccinated (14 days after the first dose but not 14 days after the second) and fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after the second dose) make up a small proportion of the cases reported between December 2020 and July 2021. Fully vaccinated Ontarians during that time accounted for just 0.4% of cases while partially vaccinated people were 4.1%. Of those vaccinated individuals, the incidence was highest in the older population. That means that those individuals without any vaccination comprised over 95% of all cases during that time! These figures are comparable to the United States where 97% of those individuals admitted to hospital were unvaccinated.

Worldwide, the delta variant has become the dominant strain. It is more transmissible and studies from Britain show that those infected by this variant are twice as likely to be hospitalized. All approved vaccines in Canada provide protection against Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta strains. With a single dose, you get good to excellent protection and a second dose improves and intensifies this protection.

So maybe you’ve considered getting the vaccine. Perhaps you haven’t gotten around to it or feel it’s unnecessary. Hopefully, you will consider the evidence surrounding infections in those who have yet to be vaccinated. Southwestern Public Health runs clinics daily and even offers walk-in or same-day appointments. Many pharmacies offer the same. If you haven’t taken your shot or are due for your second, don’t waste time. Take care of yourselves and each other.