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Vaccines remain 'best defence' against fourth wave in Waterloo Region, public health says


Public health officials continue to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent a fourth wave of the disease.

Speaking at the weekly COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Regional Chair Karen Redman reminded residents of multiple options for both first and second vaccine doses, including school vaccine clinics, mobile buses circulating in the community and walk-in first and second doses at all regional clinics.

"We need to remember every dose counts and it has never been easier to get your vaccine," said Dept. Chief Shirley Hilton, who is leading the region's vaccine rollout. "It is now up to you."

To date, more than 83 per cent of residents 12 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, while more than 72 per cent are fully vaccinated.

"Getting fully vaccinated is your best defence against COVID-19 and it greatly reduces your risk for serious outcomes," said Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rabia Bana.

Officials continue to encourage people to get their second dose as soon as they are eligible.

Hilton said staff are contacting people with second doses booked for September and October to encourage them to book earlier or use a walk-in option. Fall appointments will be cancelled on Aug. 16, and Hilton said staff will communicate options to anyone whose appointment is cancelled.


Dr. Bana said the region's case rates are "marginally up" since the COVID-19 briefing last Friday.

The seven-day rolling average now sits at 2.9 cases per 100,000 people. Last week, it was 2.6 cases per 100,000.

The incidence rate is 20 cases per 100,000 people per week, which has dropped from 40 cases per 100,000 people at the beginning of July.

"We continue to remain at-risk for a resurgence of Delta, which is why we still need more people to get vaccinated," Dr. Bana said.

She added the region is now aiming at 90 per cent of the eligible population receiving both first and second doses.

"The highest vaccination rates possible are required to keep our schools and communities safe," she said.


Health officials in the region said moving forward, they're working to balance restrictions and risk of COVID-19 within the community.

"We continue to try and strike that balance between restrictions on individuals and groups and the risk of COVID-19 and the number of cases," Dr. Bana said.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Julie Emili said it's about finding ways to return to normal safely.

"COVID is a part of our lives," she said. "The way we get to as normal as possible is getting the highest vaccination rates possible."


Earlier this week, the province released guidelines for what school will look like in September.

Measures include mandatory masks indoors and on student transportation, cohorting, physical distancing and adequate ventilation in school buildings.

Dr. Bana said they will work with local school boards to implement the measures and determine if anything further needs to be done.

"I encourage all youth to get vaccinated before returning to school," she said.


Twenty-one days have passed since Ontario moved into Step 3, but the province and Waterloo Region remain behind vaccination targets laid out to move into the next stage of reopening.

In order to move out of Step 3, at least 75 per cent of the eligible population needs to be fully vaccinated. Ontario sits at 71 per cent as of Friday.

Ian McLean with the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce said the focus remains on keeping staff and customers safe.

"Just because we can reopen and go out of stage three doesn't mean we should," McLean said. "Most people are concerned with cautiously reopening. Staying open is the prime objective."

Local chambers have been working collaboratively with businesses to make sure they are COVID-19 safe. Ambassadors have performed more than 1,800 visits to local businesses, and officials said 98 per cent of those participating were compliant with COVID-19 regulations.


There were two enforcement actions reported on Friday.

Two tickets were issued by Grand River Transit security, one at the Fairway Station and one at the Allen Station, for failing to wear a face covering. The tickets were $240 each. Top Stories

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