Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is already preparing for increased third dose COVID shots and nearly 25,000 children awaiting eligibility for the COVID vaccine.
“We're preparing for what changes may be coming down the pipes in the weeks and months to come,” said Rita Isley, chief nursing officer and director of community health at WDG Public Health, at a board of health meeting on Wednesday evening.
With schools open and Ontario facing a fourth wave, WDG Public Health is currently focusing on school populations getting vaccinated and reaching unvaccinated individuals in rural areas.
Isley said WDG Public Health is currently working with school boards to organize pop-up clinics within high schools, focusing on ones where less than 75 per cent of the population received their first dose. This aims to provide accessible opportunities for students and staff in schools.
“We're also going to go back into our other high schools to help get the last group that are willing to get vaccinated because even though the schools are well over 80 per cent, there's still hundreds of kids that are eligible for the vaccine that still haven't received it,” said Isley.
Isley said Public Health will continue its various vaccination opportunities across the region such as running its hub sites in Guelph, Fergus and Orangeville, running mobile sites that rotate in rural areas, hosting outreach pop-up clinics, and running vaccination programs in local primary care providers and pharmacies.
Isley said Public Health wants to focus its pop up clinics in areas where a majority of the population isn’t vaccinated. Through the clinics, it hopes to encourage residents and give them opportunities to get vaccinated.
“We're also working with our local primary care providers and pharmacies to ensure that they have everything that they need to continue to offer the vaccine,” said Isley.
She said Public Health has already begun administering third doses and is preparing for an increase in the eligibility criteria for third doses.
The province opened eligibility for third doses in August. Third doses are for those with an increased risk of COVID infection and a waning immune response to vaccines.
“We also know that we're going to be seeing a population of about 25,000 children between the ages five and 11 who will be eligible for the COVID vaccine in the weeks and months to come,” said Isley.
“We're just waiting for approval for that vaccine to be able to be delivered in that population but we're already planning on how we're going to work with our community partners to get that group of eligible children done as quickly as possible and to be able to ensure that they get their first and second doses.”