‘Follow the rules, remain vigilant against COVID-19’

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The overall number of COVID-19 cases in the Southwestern Public Health region have dropped in the last week, while Tillsonburg numbers have climbed.

The public health agency reported on Monday 140 active cases in Oxford and Elgin counties, including 31 in Tillsonburg. That’s up from 20 a week earlier.

Ten people in the Oxford-Elgin region were in hospital; due to COVID-19, with three in the intensive care unit.

“I believe this is the highest number of hospitalizations we have seen so far in the region,” said medical officer of health Dr. Joyce Lock.

As of April 28, nearly 59,000 residents in the Southwestern Public Health region in Oxford and Elgin counties had received at least one dose of vaccine, which is 27.6 per cent of the population.

“We still have a long way to go, and that’s certainly what we are telling our teams, that this is a marathon and not a sprint, and we are so excited to see news like increased vaccine supplies coming in to hopefully allow us to achieve that (75 per cent) target well ahead of the timeline (September 2021),” said Jaime Fletcher, program manager with the health unit.


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“Immunization is giving us a lot of hope, but we still need people to follow the rules and remain vigilant against COVID-19 until we are further along in this response.”

“Thank you to everyone continuing to follow public health measures,” said Lock. “Your actions are making a difference in our community and I hope we continue to see a downward trend in our case numbers in the coming weeks.

“I strongly encourage anyone who is eligible now for a COVID-19 vaccine to get it. There are still lots of appointments available at our clinics in St. Thomas, Woodstock and Tillsonburg for the month of May.

“We know the past months have felt particularly tough. Covid continues to challenge us in every way. I know we are tired, frustrated, sad and worried. More vaccine is on its way to our region next month and eligibility continues to expand regularly.”

Fletcher answered 10 frequently asked questions from the community on the health unit’s weekly media teleconference call.

Question: ‘I see that some health units are further ahead than others. Why is this?’

“So there is a number of reasons that determine how eligibility opens, and who is resourced and what the local needs are, and that is what makes all of our local health units, all 34 in the Province of Ontario, unique, ” said Fletcher. “So some of that depends on rates of transmission, on numbers of cases, whether or not they have been deemed a hot spot, whether or not they have the capacity to handle increased doses based on their populations.


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“So certainly we are not in a position to compare ourselves to some of the bigger urban metropolis in Ontario and we’re pleased to offer a local experience here based on the number of vaccines that have been allocated to us from the Province of Ontario.”

Question: ‘When will my doctor offer vaccinations?’

“Several, many health care providers have reached out and said that they are ready to receive COVID-19 vaccine,” said Fletcher, “ to administer to eligible populations within their practice. Others have said ‘let’s see how it goes.’ Or that they are not equipped to provide COVID-19 vaccine in their practices for a variety of reasons.

“COVID-19 has created challenges on administering vaccine. Some of those could be space, and appointments, and even the complexity of handling this very precious vaccine can create some barriers. So not all primary care practices will be having COVID-19 (vaccine) at this point, but we will be continuing to… welcome primary care providers along this journey.”

Question: ‘Do I even need a second dose?’

Fletcher: “Our answer would be ‘absolutely, you do.’ We can’t let our guard down now. We have seen how COVID-19 has changed in the year and a bit that it’s been with us and we need to optimize protection. And we know that right now the best way to do that is with a two-vaccine series – and keeping your appointment at 112 days when you’ve been booked is critical to helping end this as soon as we can.”


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