Today, Thursday Jan. 13, marks one year since the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Niagara. While huge progress has been made in vaccinating Niagara to combat the pandemic, the current Omicron wave once again necessitates vigilance in following COVID-19 guidelines and especially in getting vaccinated with first, second, and booster doses.
Great strides have been made in keeping Niagara communities safe in the past year, including over 900,000 vaccines that have been given to Niagara residents, and almost 77 per cent of eligible residents now having a full series of two doses.
However, the danger of the new Omicron variant looms large. Due to its increased transmissibility compared to the Delta variant, infections, severe illness, and hospitalizations are at all time highs, putting unparalleled strain on hospitals and healthcare facilities with limited capacity.
The COVID-19 vaccine, including booster doses, is not only the single best protection against the Omicron variant, it is now more important than ever before. As the Omicron variant spreads so rapidly, measures such as case isolation and contact tracing are no longer effective. Masking and physical distance make a big difference, but they cannot be practiced 24/7. Only the COVID-19 vaccine can protect us at all times during this wave when so many around us are getting infected. Only the vaccine will protect us in a few months when we hopefully resume post-pandemic life.
It is recommended that everyone five years of age and older get vaccinated, and receive their booster if they’re eligible, as soon as possible. Public Health is adding appointments often, and encourages those looking for a booster dose to check the provincial COVID-19 vaccine booking portal
regularly. With appointments becoming available daily, there are many opportunities to reschedule into an earlier spot.
“While the Omicron variant is spreading extraordinarily fast, we have responded by vaccinating faster than we’ve ever done before,” said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Acting Medical Officer of Health. “The sooner we get vaccinated and get our booster doses; the earlier we will protect ourselves and our loved ones; and the faster we can get back to school, to work and to our regular lives.”
Children five to 11 years of age and individuals 12 years of age and older can get vaccinated at Public Health clinics
. Walk-ins are accepted at Public Health clinics for the following groups:
- Individuals 50 years of age and older (any dose, including booster)
- Pregnant people and their partners (any dose, including booster)
- Individuals 12 years of age and older (first or second dose only)
- Children 5-11 years old (first dose only)
- Staying home if you’re sick or have symptoms
- Only going out for essential outings
- Limiting social contacts to only your household
- Wearing a well-fitted mask with at least three layers
- Avoiding indoor spaces with other people
- Maintaining at least two metres of distance from others
Public Health expresses their gratitude for the continued support and collaboration of community partners including Niagara Health, participating pharmacies, physicians, and primary care providers, as well as all of the facilities that have made it possible to bring vaccines to every community in the region. Appreciation is also given to the thousands of Niagara residents who have done their part by following Public Health guidelines and by getting vaccinated.
For more information on COVID-19, visit niagararegion.ca/COVID19 or call the COVID-19 Info-Line at 905-688-8248
(press 7). The info-line is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.