29K vaccine appointments available in Waterloo Region; residents urged to book earlier if possible
The head of Waterloo Region’s vaccine task force made an urgent plea Tuesday morning for residents to book their third dose appointment earlier if they have one later in the month in a push to battle the latest Omicron-driven wave.
“I’d like to encourage anyone who has an appointment later in the month to book ahead and get the third dose vaccine earlier,” said Vickie Murray during her vaccine update to regional councillors at a Committee of the Whole meeting.
Murray noted 65,000 vaccine appointments were made available at the start of January and “there are still 29,000 appointments available to book,” which means 45 per cent of available doses.
“This is new for us, because in December they were booking faster than we could get them,” said Murray.
Murray noted both Bingemans and Pinebush vaccination clinics have a significant amount of appointments available this week, and stressed for residents 29 of age and older not to turn away Moderna to wait for Pfizer.
Murray also said sector specific vaccine clinics are also being run for health-care workers and educators, which are being coordinated in partnership with their employers.
PUSH TO VACCINATE KIDS 5 TO 11
During the briefing, Murray noted 47 per cent of eligible children aged five to 11 have received their first dose.
"We’d like to see those first doses and really the second doses be much, much higher in terms of percentage," said Dr. Sharon Bal, the primary care physician lead for the vaccine task force.
Dr. Bal said she believes many parents may have questions about whether or not the vaccine is safe or if there are any side effects.
"The problem is, I think that's a barrier to people booking those appointments," she said.
Kitchener’s Mayor, Berry Vrbanovic, said it’s a statistic that is lower than what officials were hoping for and asked if there will be anything done to get more children immunized prior to the return to in-class learning on Monday.
Murray responded by saying special efforts and messaging for families was part of the vaccine task force’s strategy early on when that young age group was approved.
“It’s very possible with Omicron and third doses that some of that messaging got lost somehow,” said Murray.
Murray added they will be reviving that messaging, and said they are considering walk-ins for children at all vaccination clinics, which is only currently available at the Boardwalk location.
"Really focus on getting the messages out there around the safety of the vaccine for children and how important it is to protect them as well," Murray said.
NORTH DUMFRIES VACCINE CLINIC LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS
Sue Foxton, the mayor of North Dumfries, expressed concern about a vaccine clinic at the Langs Community Health Center that was cancelled.
“Langs did not have the availability of staff to run it,” said Foxton during the meeting. “Our council felt like we were being ignored, but it’s the ramification of burned out staff.”
Foxton noted the township is willingto work with the region to see if they can ask volunteers with medical training from North Dumfries to staff a vaccine clinic.