P.E.I. needs to do more to get people vaccinated, says Morrison

P.E.I. can take pride in the work done to get people vaccinated, says Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison, but there is still more that needs to be done.

2 new cases of COVID-19 announced

P.E.I. border controls will stay up into the fall, says Dr. Heather Morrison. (CBC)

P.E.I. can take pride in the work done to get people vaccinated, says Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison, but there is still more that needs to be done.

Morrison was speaking at a regular COVID-19 briefing Tuesday morning.

"While Island residents have responded well to the opportunity to be immunized, we still have work to do," she said.

"We still have a large number of Island residents who are not fully vaccinated."

Morrison said while cases of COVID-19 are rising in a potential fourth wave in Canada, almost 90 per cent of new cases since December have been in unvaccinated people. She called this a strong indication that vaccination is an effective protection.

New target

P.E.I. is amending its goal for the number of people it wants fully vaccinated.

The spread of the delta variant highlights the need for people to get fully immunized, said Morrison.

"Currently one-third of all new cases in Canada are attributed to the delta variant," she said.

"A greater proportion of the delta cases are partially vaccinated compared to other variants."

The province had set a target of 80 per cent of eligible residents vaccinated, but Morrison said new national modelling suggests 83 per cent should be fully vaccinated in order to ensure the health-care system can handle the pressure of COVID-19.

As of Saturday, 89.4 per cent of eligible Islanders had received one dose of vaccine, and 64.6 per cent had received two.

The province needs to do more to maximize the number of residents that are fully vaccinated, Morrison said, and announced new measures to make getting the vaccine easier.

  • Companies with more than five employees may now request an on-site vaccination clinic for both first and second doses.
  • Health PEI is working to set up vaccine clinics on campus at Holland College and UPEI.
  • The recommended interval between doses is being reduced from eight weeks to six weeks.

The province still expects to have 80 per cent of eligible residents vaccinated by the end of August.

There is still no vaccine approved for children under 12. Since they cannot be vaccinated, and children are mostly catching COVID-19 from adults, she said the best way to protect children is for adults to get vaccinated.

A high vaccination rate among eligible residents will help ensure that the return to school in September is as normal as possible.

Border controls

P.E.I. will be keeping up its provincial border controls, said Morrison.

'The management of COVID-19 in other provinces is starting to change, with some provinces indicating decreasing testing, isolation and contact tracing efforts," she said.

P.E.I. will continue screening people arriving in the province into the fall. (Kevin Yarr/CBC)

"In P.E.I. at this point we will continue testing and screening at the points of entry into the fall. Contact tracing and case management will continue to be public health priorities."

Currently people arriving on the Island require a P.E.I. Pass showing that they have at least one vaccine shot if they are from Atlantic Canada, and are fully vaccinated if they are from outside the region. In addition, people from outside Atlantic Canada are tested at points of entry.

The province is, however, easing some of its self-isolation requirements:

  • People who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or from the day of the positive test, provided they feel well and aren't taking immunosuppressive medications.
  • Fully-immunized close contacts who don't have symptoms will not necessarily have to isolate. They will monitor for symptoms and be tested regularly.
  • Close contacts who are not immunized or partially immunized will have to isolate for 14 days and be tested regularly. Morrison noted 14 days is the incubation period of the coronavirus.
  • Casual contacts — that is, people who were in a place at the same time as a confirmed case — will now be asked to monitor for symptoms and get tested some time between day four and day six following the exposure.

While these are the guidelines, public health will do a risk assessment for each case.

New cases

Morrison announced two new cases of COVID-19. The province now has six active cases, with four announced last week.

One of the new cases was a person in their 20s, and the other was between the ages of 10 and 19. Both cases were related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

Contact tracing is complete on the two new cases, said Morrison. The Chief Public Health Office later issued a flight notification asking anyone who travelled on Air Canada Flight 634 from Toronto on Aug. 8, which arrived in Charlottetown Aug. 9, to visit a testing clinic should they notice any COVID-19 symptoms.

P.E.I. has seen 214 cases of COVID-19.

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