For 64 days, the intensive care unit at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto has not seen a new patient with COVID-19.
This streak expired last week.
Patient: A healthy man in his forties, not immune to his choice.
It was not a decision based on access or availability issues, Dr. Michael Warner, the hospital’s medical director of critical care, explained in a video posted online with the patient’s permission. Instead, it was influenced by “unscientific claims made by friends and colleagues”.
“Postponing the vaccination is a decision the patient now deeply regrets,” Warner said shrugged.
But as Ontario faces increasing rates of the highly infectious delta variant, it is also experiencing declining vaccination rates with the average number of new daily shots being given apparently at around 43,000. This is while the delta variant now accounts for more than 90 percent of Cases of COVID-19 detected in testing.
The county’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said the decline in vaccines was not something the county was necessarily expecting.
“We’ve had a sudden drop over the past several weeks, and quite frankly, we have to re-enforce our efforts to vaccinate Ontarians,” Moore told reporters on Tuesday.
As it stands, Ontario has administered more than 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with nearly 82 percent of Ontarians aged 12 and over receiving one dose and 74 percent receiving both.
However, about three million eligible Ontarians remain unvaccinated. Among the least protected are those 30 to 39 years old with only about 66 percent of fully vaccinated, 18 to 29 with nearly 60 percent of full vaccinations and 12 to 17 years old with only 56 percent of vaccinations full.
Even in the older age groups, there are still gaps. According to Dr. Peter Johnny of Science Table in Ontario, 850,000 people aged 50 and over are still not immunized.
“Imagine what that means, 850,000,” Johnny told CBC News. “This could easily cause up to 15,000 admissions to the intensive care unit.”
The facts are clear, he says: If you have been vaccinated, your risk of infection is eight times lower than that of someone who has not been vaccinated. The risk of hospitalization is about 30 times lower. And the risk of ending up in the intensive care unit is 50 times lower.
Try to get to those “on the edge”
So who are the naysayers?
A small percentage of the population, says Johnny, is, and likely to remain, vehemently against vaccinating their children.
“We don’t have to deal with these people,” he said. “They will learn the hard way.” With much of the county reopening, the risk of infection within the next six to 12 months for those who haven’t been vaccinated is 80 to 90 percent.
But there are those on the edge, says Johnny, who have been swayed by misinformation from friends or colleagues.
“There are a lot of people who have experiences in their lives that also make them hesitant and distrustful of the system, and against the authorities and the government. I can totally understand that,” Johnny said, adding that many in this group are racially or ethnically diverse.
“What pains me is basically seeing that a lot of misinformation is being spread by white privileged people and we need to be vigilant now that we are tackling this… That is the challenge now, to get those people who are clearly not opposed but are still there Fears “.
The truth is, he says, that no vaccine has been evaluated in history besides the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Lack of access is still an issue for many
Aside from the hesitant, there are also those who still lack access to a vaccine.
Joni says these are largely people who work precariously and need better support from their employers to get time off for vaccinations as well as potential side effects, should they experience it.
Dr. said. Andrew Buzzari, MD, executive director of the UHN Gattuso Center for Social Medicine.
Buzari also believes that vaccine efforts that put community ambassadors at the center will also be essential now.
“The introduction of the vaccine has always been moving at the speed of confidence,” he said.
“Individuals who remain unvaccinated may hesitate for various reasons and require a more targeted approach,” Department of Health spokesman Bill Campbell told CBC News.
As vaccine rollout continues, he says, high-volume sites such as hospitals and community venues may begin to wind down their offerings, with mobile clinics and community pop-ups taking a more prominent role.
The county is also working with public health units to offer clinic days for people with disabilities, hold open meetings in multiple languages, and provide services such as transportation, translation services, and car clinics, he says.
The family physician, Dr. Jennifer Kwan, says she would also like to see easy-to-understand visualizations to help explain the number of patients who are not vaccinated, and to “help people make an informed decision to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Variable risk more lethal
For more proof, the effect of not being vaccinated is real, just ask Dr. Kevin Smith, president of the University of Toronto Health Network (UHN).
Since late June, Smith says the UHN has admitted 45 people with COVID-19, all but nine of whom have not been fully vaccinated. Thirteen patients ended up in intensive care – all unvaccinated – and nine became so ill that they were put on ventilators.
One of the biggest concerns now, he says, is that every time someone passes the COVID-19 virus, we risk another mutation.
“So the sooner we can eliminate this or reduce it to a basic minimum…the lower the risks of the more virulent and possibly more lethal alternative.”
For those who still choose not to be vaccinated, Joni says:
“The hard realities of life, if you are not vaccinated, you are more likely to become infected within the next six to 12 months. And catching the virus that causes COVID-19 is not a walk in the park.”