Delta variant 'already the dominant strain' in Waterloo Region: Dr. Wang
KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's top doctor says the Delta variant is "already the dominant strain" in the community.
Speaking at the region's COVID-19 briefing on Friday morning, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said based on latest data, the Delta variant is circulating in the community.
Using proxy data, health officials believe 65 per cent of cases between June 6 and 12 are the Delta variant.
"Residents should assume Delta is the dominant strain circulating in Waterloo Region," Dr. Wang said.
The region is dealing with a large shelter system outbreak, but Dr. Wang said that is not where the majority of cases are coming from.
She said most spread is through close contacts within in households, or between groups during social gatherings.
"If we didn't have the immunization rates we already do in Waterloo Region, this situation could be much worse," Dr. Wang said.
"Delta can take off very quickly once it gets a foothold," Dr. Wang said.
She said what's happening in Waterloo Region could happen anywhere.
"What is making our situation different from the province, it's because we believe nowt that Delta is circulating widely," she said.
Dr. Wang encouraged people to take the first mRNA vaccine available, reminding residents there is no difference between Pfizer and Moderna. She said they are both highly and equally effective.
The province identified Waterloo Region as a Delta hot spot last week, and officials with the vaccine task force said more vaccine doses are expected in the coming days.
Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton, who leads the region's COVID-19 vaccine task force, said eligibility for second doses will expand for everyone who received a dose on or before May 30 starting Wednesday.
Currently, residents who are eligible for an accelerated second dose can fill out a form on the region's website. Hilton said they hope to have a self-booking system operational by Monday.
Hilton said they're working to set up mobile clinics to help administer vaccines, and the Pine Bush vaccination clinic has increased capacity to offer an additional 1,000 appointments each day.
There are also plans for a "doses after dark" initiative to offer evening appointments at the Pine Bush clinic.
Regional officials tweeted about a pop-up clinic at 99 Regina St. scheduled for this week. The hours are 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. As of Friday afternoon, appointments were still available. More pop-up clinics are expected in the region in the coming weeks.
Anyone who has booked a new second dose appointment should cancel any other appointments to ensure all doses are administered as quickly as possible.