Vaccine certificate program an 'important step' to reduce COVID-19 spread, regional officials say
Ontario's new COVID-19 vaccine certificate program will help reduce the spread of the disease in the community, Waterloo Region officials say.
"This is an important step that reduces the risk of COVID-19 and encourages eligible people to get vaccinated," Chair Karen Redman said at the region's weekly COVID-19 briefing on Friday.
The program came into effect on Wednesday, and requires proof of vaccination from eligible residents at many non-essential businesses, including indoor restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theatres.
"Please be kind to one another when visiting businesses and venues in our community. Let us treat staff and other people with respect and patience," Redman said. "We all want businesses to be open and stay open."
Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's medical officer of health, said the program will play a large role as we head into the fall and winter months.
"As the weather gets colder and the opportunity for outdoor options becomes more limited, this program will also help customers feel comfortable in these indoor settings," Dr. Wang said.
OVERALL TRENDS REMAIN STABLE
Dr. Wang said the region has maintained "relatively stability" in COVID-19 trends over the past few months, which is consistent with many other areas of Ontario.
"However, the Delta variant continues to circulate in our community and represents the vast majority of cases," Dr. Wang said.
She encouraged people to continue following public health guidelines and get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect others who might not be able to get vaccinated yet.
She added most transmission in the region continues to be from gatherings where people were not masking or distancing from those outside of their household.
The COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues to move at a steady pace, according to Vickie Murray with the region's vaccine distribution task force. Murray said regional clinics are administering around 1,000 doses a day, and residents continue to receive vaccines at local pharmacies and in primary care settings.
So far, health partners have administered 4,470 third doses to eligible residents with high-risk health conditions or living in congregate settings or long-term care homes. "We have moved to a model where generally over 50 per cent of our daily doses are being done by community pharmacies or local pharmacists," Murray said.
Clinics at The Boardwalk and Pinebush Road continue to offer doses for walk-ins only. Murray said the Pinebush clinic will be open this Monday from 5 to 8:30 p.m., and they may add Monday evenings to their schedule if there is demand.
The mobile vaccine bus will also continue to administer doses to community members.
Murray said the region is working on a plan to get shots to children aged five to 11 once that age group is approved by Health Canada. Plans could include mass clinics, drive thru clinics or administering vaccines in schools, according to Murray.
"My goal is to have that plan in a nice little parcel, so that when we do get that approval, that we're able to move quite quickly on it, because I know that this vaccination group is top-of-mind for everyone," she said.
There were a total of three enforcement actions reported in Friday's update.
Redman said bylaw officers for the City of Waterloo handed out two $880 tickets, one for a gathering at a private residence and one to Streetlights Bar for violating a continued order.
Region of Waterloo security also issued a $240 ticket for failing to comply with the face covering bylaw.