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Over 6,800 adults under 60 in region get second COVID booster

All adults became eligible for their fourth COVID vaccine dose, or second booster dose, last month
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It's been just under a month, and uptake of the second COVID-19 booster dose among all adults in our catchment area is as expected, according to the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit.

Between July 14 and Aug. 9, just over 6,800 adults under the age of 60 living in the area have gotten their fourth dose, representing about four per cent of the population between the ages 18 and 59.

"We are seeing that we had an uptick in our fourth doses administered over our community after that announcement for 18+ eligibility, and that rates per week have since come down," Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum, associate medical officer of health, told GuelphToday.

"We know there are some people for whom they've been waiting to get that fourth dose. As soon as they were allowed to, they jumped at the opportunity, and we are encouraging them to come to get it."

However, he adds the uptake isn't nearly as high as what was seen last winter when all adults were given clearance to get their third dose (first booster). Tenenbaum also notes people are going to have their reasons and priorities on when to come forward for that fourth dose.

It could be that they recently tested positive for the virus. Perhaps they're waiting on variant-specific vaccines in development.

Tenenbaum said people are asking questions about those specific doses, and a plan for the fall, and whether getting a vaccine now could impact getting that dose in a few months time.

But he notes at this stage, there's still a lot of uncertainty about what the plan in the fall looks like, especially the trickle down effect to the local level.

"We don't exactly know at the local level what kind of quantity of vaccine we're going to get, and what process we're going to have to roll it out," Tenenbaum said. "I'm anticipating that because we're probably going to get some limited vaccine supply, we'll be rolling it out in stages, according to guidance we receive from the province, and focusing first on those who are highest risk, those who are in long-term care, retirement homes, older adults in the community, etc."

That would mean those at a lower risk, he said, could get a dose later in the fall. But again, uncertainty looms on when that will actually happen.

"We are also expecting guidance from the province about in the context of that roll out, what kind of interval they're recommending," he said. "Or what kind of interval, at the minimum between their last dose and their fall booster dose."

While some information is forthcoming, Tenenbaum said if you're thinking of getting the vaccine before the fall, it makes sense to do it sooner rather than later so you can begin the interval period earlier, between the dose available now and the dose anticipated for later this year.

There is a sense of "COVID vaccine fatigue" in the community, he admits, due to the changing recommendations and changing science.

But he's hoping things settle down as things move toward the long-term management of COVID-19, and possibly a more straightforward set of recommendations on when to get a vaccine, and how often.

"Perhaps more similar to what we do with the flu (vaccine)," he said. "I'm not saying it's going to be a once annual vaccine, because we don't know that. But having a regular, well understood, simple vaccine schedule for COVID, I think will be part of the long-term plan, if we can achieve it. And having it be simple and straightforward and clearly communicable will also help maintain people's willingness to come forward and get the vaccine."

Second boosters to adults aren't the only vaccine statistic being watched.

Eligibility for children six months to five-years-old opened on July 14.

Tenenbaum said there hasn't been a huge uptake in that age group so far, but notes like previous roll outs, these things take time.

"Parents often have questions they need answered, and we're trying to do our best to answer those questions to make sure they have confidence in the vaccine," he said. 

"We are looking at this as a medium to long-term project. It isn't just about what we can do in a week or a month, it's about what we're doing into the fall, and beyond."

Vaccine appointments for the youngest age group can be booked through the health unit by phone, or through either your primary care provider or participating pharmacy.

Those above the age of five needing a vaccine can book an appointment online, by phone or by walking into a vaccine clinic during drop-in hours.


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Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Mark is a graduate of Canadore College in North Bay whose career has taken him through a number of spots across Ontario. He spent nearly a decade in the radio news industry in North Bay, Timmins and Waterloo Region
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