More than 50% of Ontario adults have 2 shots of COVID-19 vaccine, province says
Pace of 1st-dose uptake has slowed significantly in recent weeks
More than 50 per cent of adults in Ontario have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the province said Thursday, as officials detailed plans to reach those who have not yet had a shot.
Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced the vaccination milestone at a morning news conference. The update was preceded by a technical briefing for media. (You can read the whole presentation at the bottom of this story.)
Officials said they expect to shift the focus of the vaccine rollout from mass clinics to primary care settings in coming weeks as they try to get to adults who have not yet had a first shot but could be open to receiving one.
That group represents roughly 10 to 15 per cent of adults in the province, officials said.
The province is currently working with public health units to determine a target number for how many family doctors may ultimately get involved in the immunization campaign, officials added. They said they anticipate that demand for first and second doses at mass clinics will drop off considerably at some point in August.
To assist primary care providers who wish to participate, the Ministry of Health is offering access to a number of internal systems to help identify and inform outreach to patients who have not had a first dose of vaccine, officials said.
Meanwhile, part of the ongoing effort to get all eligible Ontarians vaccinated against the virus includes several measures to reduce barriers to access and offer expert information to anyone who is vaccine hesitant.
These include mobile and dedicated clinics for people with disabilities, virtual town halls in multiple languages and providing transportation to and from immunization sites.
Speaking to reporters, Elliott said the province does not plan to consider any kinds of financial incentives for vaccines.
The province's latest figures show that about 78.6 per cent of adults have had at least one dose of vaccine, while more than 51 per cent have had both shots.
The lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates are among the youngest eligible age groups. About 67 per cent of those aged 18 to 29 have had at least one dose, along with 59 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17.
The uptake of first shots has slowed considerably in Ontario in recent weeks, prompting calls from health professionals to better integrate family doctors into its immunization campaign.
Waterloo moving to Step 2
As Elliott and Jones were speaking, the province reported another 210 cases of COVID-19.
Officials said that, given recent analysis from Public Health Ontario, a "vast majority of new cases may be attributed to lack of vaccination."
The delta variant of concern has become the dominant strain in Ontario, accounting for roughly 82 per cent of current infections, according to the COVID-19 science advisory table.
Grey Bruce Health Unit has the highest incidence rate in the province and was recently designated the 11th delta variant hot spot. Waterloo and Porcupine have also dealt with outbreaks linked to delta, though officials said that all three appear to be stabilizing.
Waterloo, the only one of Ontario's 34 public health units that stayed in Step 1 of the reopening plan, announced today it would be moving into Step 2 on July 12.
Here are some other key indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:
Seven-day average of daily cases: 194, marking the first time this measure has dropped below 200 in Ontario since Sept. 13, 2020.
Tests completed: 25,857
Provincewide test positivity rate: 0.8 per cent
Active cases: 1,816
Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 215; 145 needed a ventilator to breathe
Deaths: Four, pushing the official toll to 9,228
Vaccinations: 268,884; a new high, but the total for Wednesday includes three hours worth of data from Tuesday evening that were not in yesterday's report because of a technical issue.
Below is a PDF of the Ministry of Health's technical briefing for media this morning:
With files from Lucas Powers and Mike Crawley