The Northwestern Health Unit is celebrating a milestone in its campaign to immunize region residents against COVID-19.
Ninety per cent of NWHU residents 12 and older had received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday, the health unit reported.
NWHU medical officer of health Dr. Kit Young Hoon called it an impressive result, after expressing concerns earlier in the year over vaccine coverage in the health unit, which covers nearly one-fifth of the province’s land mass, including the Rainy River District and part of the Kenora District.
As of Thursday, 89.9 per cent of residents 12 and older had received at least a first dose, compared to 88.8 per cent across Ontario.
The NWHU still lags the provincial average on full vaccination – though now only slightly. Of NWHU residents 12 and up, 84.8 per cent were fully immunized, compared to 85.8 per cent province-wide.
In the neighbouring Thunder Bay District Health Unit, 90 per cent of those 12 and up are fully vaccinated – the second-highest rate in the province.
“I would like to thank residents who have chosen to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from COVID-19,” said Young Hoon in a statement Friday. “You are helping our local businesses to stay open, keeping our students in school, and are preventing our local hospitals from being overwhelmed with cases of the virus.”
She also thanked health care workers, volunteers, and pharmacists for their role in the effort, which has seen over 131,000 vaccine doses administered so far to the NWHU’s estimated population of 87,677 people.
Young Hoon had expressed concern in September that the NWHU’s full vaccination rate had plateaued in the low 70 per cents range.
After the health unit surpassed 80 per cent fully vaccinated in mid-October, she credited workplace vaccine policies for at least part of the rise in vaccinations.
Young Hoon encouraged those who still needed a first or second dose to book soon.
With Health Canada granting approval to a lower-dose Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 on Friday, she said vaccine clinic appointments would soon be harder to come by, with rollout of the children’s vaccine expected “within the next few weeks.”
To book an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.nwhu.on.ca/covid19 or call 1-866-468-2240.
Also on Friday, the health unit reported five new cases of COVID-19, with four in the Kenora region and one in the District of Rainy River. That caused active cases to rise to six across the NWHU.