The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Norfolk General Hospital now accepts walk-ins for first doses in a move the local health unit hopes will boost lagging uptake.
Ontario Ministry of Health data released Wednesday has Haldimand-Norfolk last among the province’s 34 health units in the partial vaccination rate for residents 12 and older.
According to the province, 73 per cent of those eligible in Haldimand-Norfolk have received at least one dose of vaccine. Thirteen health units have surpassed the 80 per cent mark, with another largely rural health unit — Leeds, Grenville and Lanark — leading the pack at 88 per cent. In Hamilton, 75 per cent of eligible residents have their first shot.
When it comes to the percentage of the 12-plus population to be fully vaccinated, Haldimand-Norfolk was at a competitive 60 per cent.
Until this week, vaccination at all clinics was by appointment only. The Simcoe hospital now welcomes walk-ins, but hours are limited to between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.
Spokesperson Kyra Hayes said the health unit is starting to “ramp down” the vaccination program now that the rollout has reached “large portions of the population.”
Where staff at mass clinics used to vaccinate upwards of 10,000 people each week, last week saw 4,187 shots delivered in Haldimand-Norfolk, of which just 791 were first doses.
Hayes pointed out the proportion of first doses will continue to fall as more of the population gets the shot. But as of Friday, one in four adults were still unvaccinated, including roughly half of residents in their 20s.
Of particular concern, only 64 per cent of staff working in long-term-care homes have been vaccinated, which is well behind the provincial average of 93 per cent.
“This is an area that the health unit is aware of and is devising additional plans for,” Hayes said.
Active COVID-19 cases remain low in Haldimand-Norfolk, with none reported on four of seven days last week. Most residents who test positive are unvaccinated, said Dr. Alex Hukowich, acting medical officer of health.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator