Ottawa

Ottawa nearing herd immunity as it hits major vaccine milestones

Ninety per cent of Ottawa residents born in 2009 or earlier have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Ottawa Public Health.

90% of eligible residents have at least 1 dose, 75% of all residents are fully vaccinated

It started here: Jo-Anne Miner, right, received Ottawa's first COVID-19 vaccination at The Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus on Dec. 15, 2020. (Supplied by The Ottawa Hospital)

Ninety per cent of Ottawa residents born in 2009 or earlier have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Ottawa Public Health.

Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen's University, said this high level of vaccination will begin to reflect in a declining number of new cases — even among people who don't have the vaccine.

"When you get over 90 per cent, you really begin to see herd immunity, begin to see that effect of protecting people all around who are either unable to get vaccinated or choosing not to get vaccinated," he said.

"We certainly know from our experience with measles and other very highly contagious disease that really starts to exert incredibly beneficial effects."

Evans pointed to Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, which has more than 90 per cent of its eligible population fully vaccinated, and has a low number of cases.

"The virus is having a more difficult time as each day passes at running into someone it can infect," Evans said.

Evans added second doses are also important given ongoing concerns about the delta variant, but existing statistics show the vast majority of people who get their first shot will receive their second. 

He said the winding down of public health measures should be done slowly and cautiously. 

In a statement, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said the city reached a "major milestone" but also cautioned we need to continue with current health measures.

"While this achievement is significant, we need to continue to be cautious and remember that a number of children remain unvaccinated and COVID-19 rates are currently highest in children five to 11 years old," according to a public health statement.

OPH said they are already planning a strategy for vaccine distribution once it's approved for younger children. On Monday, Pfizer-BioNTech applied to Health Canada for approval of its vaccine for children as young as five.

According to public health data from Friday to Sunday, people between the ages of 18 and 39 stepped forward to receive just over half the nearly 1,200 first vaccine doses administered.

The 18-29 and 30-39 cohorts are the only two age groups to not reach 85 per cent fully vaccinated, as they each sit at 75 and 76 per cent respectively.

Ottawa's goal is to eventually have 90 per cent of its total population fully vaccinated.

WATCH | Ottawa reaches 90 per cent of residents with first dose:

Ottawa reaches 90 per cent of residents with first dose, offering hope for herd immunity

1 month ago
1:01
Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen's University, said Ottawa’s high rate of vaccination means case numbers should decline, even among those who aren’t vaccinated. 1:01

With files from Andrew Foote

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