It’s the summer of second doses: public health

GUELPH – They are calling it the summer of second doses at Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

So, if you haven’t had your first COVID-19 vaccine dose yet, get it in June, officials advise, because the rest of the summer will mainly be devoted to administering second shots.

The board of health heard at its June 9 meeting that the Delta variant, formerly called the Indian variant, is now circulating in this region, and while a single dose of the vaccine is effective against the original coronavirus strain and some of the variants, that’s not the case with Delta.

Medical officer of health Dr. Nicola Mercer said one dose of the Pfizer vaccine has a 33 per cent efficacy rate against the Delta strain and that bumps to 88% efficacy with a second shot.

The health unit is now focusing on getting first doses to children aged 12 to 17 and all adults in its catchment area in June, and second doses in July and August.

“If you want both doses before fall, sign up today,” she said. “There is a vaccine for you.”

Director of community health and chief nursing officer Rita Isley offered an update on the vaccination program.

She said already 52% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the region have either received their first dose or have booked an appointment for this month.

The health unit is also operating special clinics for youth and their families the weeks of June 14 and June 21 to streamline operations.

“We hope to have teachers and children fully-vaccinated by September,” she said.

Public health is also reaching out to those over age 80 to book second appointments.

Because one dose of the vaccine is not as effective against the Delta variant, officials want to ensure the elderly, health care workers and essential workers are fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We’re running against the clock,” Isley said. “We don’t want to see a fourth wave.”

Guelph councillor and board member Rodrigo Goller asked if there is a projection on how many people won’t get the vaccine and whether there will be outbreaks as a result.

Mercer said she expects 10% won’t get the vaccine and assured those sitting on the fence that the vaccine is safe and effective.

“COVID-19 is not going away,” she said.

“I believe it will become an indoor disease, similar to influenza in that way. Because of that, we will get sporadic cases.”

She said people who have been vaccinated likely won’t get COVID-19, but those who haven’t could get it.

“We expect Delta will rise and out-compete the other variants,” added associate medical office of health Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum.