By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—Over the past week, Haldimand Norfolk reached a significant milestone, with 80% of the population over 12 now fully immunized against COVID-19 and over 84% having received at least a first dose.
While the Province continues pushing for a provincewide 90% immunization rate, Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit staff are “more than excited that we hit 80% in our own area,” according to COVID Vaccine Task Force Lead Sarah Page.
The good news comes at a time when, despite previous fears of a fourth wave overwhelming hospitals, numbers are down and continuing to trend in that direction.
“Every infected person is infecting less than one person,” said Page on the current reproductive rate. “While it’s too early for us to predict that as a long-term forecast, we are excited to see some lower numbers.”
New MOH on his first month,
relaxed health measures
“I’m very pleased,” said Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Matt Strauss on his first month in the role. “I’m pleased that vaccination continues apace, and I’m amazed at all the logistical legwork.”
He continued, “In some sense it’s been a less exciting month than many anticipated.”
Strauss said that while COVID is not over and he expects further waves, “Going forward, I’m increasing interest in all the other functions of the health unit and how we recover those.”
Strauss shared his thoughts on some of the relaxed guidelines, including capacity increases at indoor venues for vaccinated populations.
“That’s a wise move…. We now have vaccines that work. It’s a magnificent scientific achievement,” said Strauss.
Concerns over staffing issues grow as vaccination deadline approaches
With long-term care (LTC) and paramedic staff employed by Haldimand facing a looming November deadline to get vaccinated or stay home on an unpaid leave, and signs pointing toward a similar policy for Norfolk, Strauss says he has concerns for how those critical functions will operate with reduced staff.
“In both cases I was consulted about these policies, and on both occasions, I raised this concern. I think a plan needs to be in place for how services will be delivered,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s not for me or the health unit to write the policy for individual facilities…. There are social factors in play that the people directing those facilities understand that I may not.”
“I trust that those who wrote the policies have contingency plans for those issues,” he added.
Strauss said he has fielded some calls from health care workers regarding the vaccine. As in cases with the general public, the acting MOH recommends concerned staff take the time to speak with their family physician or a trusted health care professional to get all the facts about vaccination.