Local medical officer of health points out risk of going into Step Three earlier than scheduled

Concerns raised over Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy in the region

As of this Friday, Ontario will move into Step Three of the provincial Roadmap to Reopen. This is five days ahead of schedule and could bring with it some risks.

“The move into Step 3 is sooner than I have advised, and thus there would be some risk with this,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, the medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU).

“I understand from communication from the Chief MOH, Dr. Kieran Moore, that the decision has been made, in part, based on the declining transmission for the province overall, and increasing vaccination coverage, and projections that suggest that the numbers of cases will continue to decline with a low level of transmission by July 16,” he continued.

“The increased transmissibility of the Delta variant is of concern, and we will need people to continue abiding by the public health measures in place and to receive their first and second dose of vaccine as soon as they can,” added Gardner.

“We are continuing to make process, though more slowly now, towards first dose coverage of 80% of the adult population,” he said. As of Monday, 66.6 per cent of Simcoe-Muskoka adults have gotten their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. While the vaccination rate rose sharply from April through to early June, first-dose administration has slowed to a trickle. A sign of vaccine hesitancy in the region.

“We are committed to achieving as high a coverage rate as possible (for two doses), and will work closely with family physicians and pharmacies in doing so over the weeks and months to come, as well as through mobile and pop-up clinics as needed, and with a media and social media campaign to address vaccination hesitancy,” concluded Gardner.