Ontario vaccine bookings up after passport announcement, province sees 865 new COVID-19 cases

Ontario's Health Minister said Thursday the province is already seeing more people book COVID-19 vaccine appointments one day after the government announced a vaccine passport system is coming later this month.

Data shows 67 per cent of new infections among those who are unvaccinated

Hanae Scarpa holds her mother’s hand while receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a one-day pop-up clinic in the Eaton Centre mall, in Toronto, on July 27, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario's Health Minister said Thursday the province is already seeing more people book COVID-19 vaccine appointments one day after the government announced a vaccine passport system is coming later this month.

Christine Elliott said bookings "more than doubled" on Wednesday and thousands more lined up shots on Thursday.

"We're already seeing thousands more Ontarians roll up their sleeves, nearly half of whom are receiving their first dose," Elliott tweeted.

At Humber River Hospital in Toronto, officials told CBC News that 48 per cent of vaccines administered on Wednesday were to people receiving their first dose — a marked increase from the recent average. 

The development comes as Ontario reported 865 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with cases now having risen by almost 200 from the same day last week.

Of the 801 cases today with a known vaccination status:

  • 540, or 67 per cent, were in unvaccinated people.
  • 88, or 11 per cent, had a single dose.
  • 173, or 22 per cent, had two doses.

The province's raw data on the vaccination status of cases does not include breakdowns by age. That, and the fact that the populations of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in Ontario differ greatly by both size and demographics, are important caveats to note when examining cases by vaccination status.

The additional cases include 158 in Toronto, 76 in York Region, 73 in Hamilton, 59 in Peel Region, 50 in Windsor-Essex, 31 in Durham Region, 30 in Middlesex-London, 29 in Halton Region and 26 in Waterloo Region.

Vaccine passport system will begin on Sept. 22

The province unveiled its plans for a vaccine passport yesterday. The "enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate" system will come into effect on Sept. 22. At first, fully vaccinated Ontarians will need their current vaccination receipt with a valid photo identification to dine indoors at restaurants or go to gyms and theatres. Retail locations are exempt from the province's vaccine passport system.

The system will require residents to be inoculated against COVID-19 to access some non-essential services, unless there's a medical reason they can't be vaccinated.

Ontario's medical regulator is urging doctors to be judicious about handing out medical exemptions to vaccines.

Dr. Nancy Whitmore, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, says the college has already heard about requests for baseless medical exemptions, and physicians must not give in. She says there are very few legitimate medical reasons not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

They include an allergist-confirmed severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components, and a diagnosis of myocarditis or pericarditis after receiving an mRNA vaccine.

She says those instances are extremely rare.

New modelling suggests higher vaccination rates needed

Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table also released its new modelling yesterday. It shows that 85 per cent of the eligible population needs to be vaccinated to avoid a lockdown this fall due to the highly contagious delta variant. It also recommends that Ontarians reduce contacts to about 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels to reduce the spread. Unvaccinated individuals are at highest risk of getting symptomatic COVID-19, being hospitalized, or requiring intensive care.

Last Thursday, Ontario recorded 678 further infections from roughly the same number of tests. According to the province's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, the doubling time for cases has extended to 32 days, up from just eight days in early August.

The effective reproduction number, a measure of how many people an infected person will go to infect, was 1.09 as of August 28, the table says. That is down significantly from about four weeks ago when the estimated reproduction value was more than 1.6.

As of yesterday, there were 320 people with COVID-19 in hospital in Ontario. Of those, 162 were being treated for COVID-related critical illnesses in intensive care.

The Ministry of Health also reported the deaths of 14 more people with COVID-19 — however, it says that due to a "data clean-up," four of those deaths happened in the last week, while the other ten happened over a week ago.

Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:

Seven-day rolling average of daily cases: 728.

Tests in the last 24 hours: 27,293, with a provincewide positivity rate of 3 per cent.

Active cases: 6,031.

Death toll: 9,530.

Vaccinations: 35,152 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered by public health units on Wednesday. About 76.6 per cent of eligible Ontarians, or those aged 12 and older, have now had two doses. That represents about 67 per cent of the province's total population.

With files from Ali Raza and The Canadian Press


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