Asked about the relationship between local positive COVID-19 cases and those individuals' vaccination status, Dr. Carol Zimbalatti, Public Health Physician with the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit cited data updated in early July in her response.
"Since January 1st, approximately 90 per cent of our cases were in those who were unvaccinated," advised Zimbalatti during the Health Unit's weekly media availability. "More recently, since the middle of June, about 88 per cent of our cases were unvaccinated."
The Health Unit previously announced two local positive COVID-19 cases this year were fully vaccinated and that total remains unchanged.
It should be noted, although the data reaches back to the first of the year, vaccines were not available to the general public in the district until mid-March, and at that point, only to a small segment of the population.
"We are seeing, locally, that vaccination — especially with two doses — is very effective in protecting individuals from COVID-19, and most particularly, from severe disease," stated Zimbalatti.
Meanwhile, the Health Unit is acknowledging a local plateau in vaccination rates and clinic appointments next month have been cancelled and are to be rescheduled.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jim Chirico said the levelling off is expected in public health endeavours such as the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out. At the same time, he noted waiting for a certain brand of vaccine puts individuals "at an increased risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 or variant. Get the first vaccine available to you."
"Immunization rates tend to plateau in a certain timeframe," noted Chirico. "You're never going to get 100 per cent of the population. When you consider it is a new vaccine — to get rates as high as we have them — and to be as comparable as we are to the rest of Canada and Ontario, I'm extremely pleased with the number of vaccinations."
Dr. Chirico's remarks to lead the press conference included reassurance about mixing brands of vaccine amid a recent call for caution on the practice from World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan.
"The WHO statement was not referring to Canada's vaccine roll-out. The decision to allow interchangeable mRNA second doses was approved by Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI)," Chirico advised, "and was based on studies from the U.K., Spain and Germany that have found mixing the vaccines to be safe, effective, and provides a strong immune response."