Standby list available for end-of-day vaccines

By Sue Tiffin

The following are brief reports from a Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district health unit press conference with medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking, held virtually June 23 and press releases from the health unit.

As of June 28, residents in the HKPR area can register to receive an end-of-day vaccine, if available, at local immunization clinics.

Residents providing their name and phone number, and available to attend a clinic within 25 to 30 minutes of receiving a call can be vaccinated without an appointment or sooner than a later-booked appointment if there are vaccine doses remaining. Participants will only be called if there are extra doses available.

“We know some of our residents are still looking to receive their first or second dose of vaccine, and we are hoping this standby list will provide another option for those individuals,” said Bocking. “There could be leftover doses for a variety of reasons. Our goal is to ensure that vaccine gets into someone’s arm rather than be wasted.”

The standby list is available for anyone wishing to receive their first or second dose of vaccine. As of June 28, anyone aged 18 and older is eligible to receive their second dose of vaccine as long as the minimum interval between doses (21 days for Pfizer, 28 days for Moderna) has passed.

Residents are asked to visit COVID-19 Vaccine-Standby List at between 8 a.m. and noon on the day they are available. Lists will be cleared each day to ensure they are current. If the standby list becomes full, it could be closed before noon.

MOH urges ‘some caution’ with reopening as delta variant circulates
As COVID-19 vaccination targets set by the province are met and its reopening plans move from Step 1 to Step 2, medical officers of health are following the spread of the delta variant and moving forward cautiously as the vaccine rollout continues.

“We have continued to urge some caution with reopening, especially recognizing some of the unknowns related to the delta variant that we know is circulating in the province,” said Dr. Natalie Bocking, HKPR medical officer of health. “As the total number of cases has continued to come down provincially, the proportion of cases that are identified to be or expected to be the delta variant has increased. We know that the delta variant spreads easier than other variants, such as the alpha variant. We know that one dose of the vaccine is not as effective at preventing symptomatic illness from COVID-19 compared to the other variants. We’re urging some caution, as we know that the delta variant will find some pockets of the province that are not fully vaccinated or have lower one dose coverage and will continue to cause some outbreaks.”

Bocking said lower case counts and vaccination efforts should be celebrated.
“We want to ensure that all of the reopening is done safely and to ensure that we are not taking any steps back,” said Bocking. “We want to ensure by the fall we can continue to open schools and see both in-person learning, extracurricular activities return, other social events return, and so I think we want to celebrate the progress we have made and still have some caution as we continue to open up the economy and see gatherings throughout the summer.”

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district celebrates day of zero cases
On June 22, the health unit reported no new COVID-19 cases, the first time the region saw no new cases since March 23.

“Although we recognize this does not mean the pandemic is over, it is certainly milestone worth celebrating,” said Bocking in a press release. “Like other areas of the province, we saw a spike in local cases as part of the third wave, so this decrease is a welcome sight.”

Bocking said there were numerous reasons for a decrease in cases: the public following public health recommendations including mask-wearing, physical distancing and staying home when sick; and especially the COVID-19 vaccine. According to a June 22 press release, as of June 21, 73 per cent of HKPR residents 12 years of age and older have had at least one dose of vaccine.

“It’s very encouraging to see so many of our residents committed to getting fully vaccinated against COVID,” said Bocking. “We know many people are eagerly looking for appointments to either book their second dose or receive their second dose sooner. We will continue to be adding more clinics to the provincial booking system as we receive additional vaccine in the coming months.”

At press time on June 28, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently active in Haliburton County.
Prior to March 23, the health unit last saw zero cases on Nov. 29, 2020.

Cancelling appointments
Bocking said the province has done a one-time clearing of the provincial booking system for second appointments that are no longer needed after an accelerated appointment was made. It is supposed to happen on an ongoing basis though at this point has still been a one-time event.

For those who book an appointment or receive a vaccine earlier than their scheduled time through pop-up clinics, pharmacies or as a standby vaccine, it is recommended they log in to or call the provincial booking system to cancel their second appointment so that it can become available for someone else.

Epidemiological report
Bocking said during the press meeting that, at that time, there were 17 active cases across the entire HKPR region. The health unit has resumed contacting high risk contacts, which had shifted to a letter outlining quarantine and testing requirements when health units had reduced capacity due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the spring. Over two weeks in April, the health unit had been notified of 282 confirmed cases and more than 500 high risk contacts.

At press time on June 28, there are zero outbreaks being reported in the HKPR region. Of the recent cases that have been reported, 28 per cent are in those under the age of 20, and 19 to 20 per cent are between the ages of 20 to 29. Of those cases, 42 per cent were identified as having a close contact source of transmission, 33 per cent were household contacts and 25 per cent did not have a known source.

Overall, Bocking said the health unit was “quite optimistic” about the continued downward trend of cases being identified, which is also generally happening throughout the province.