Hamilton struggling to meet COVID-19 vaccination targets among youth before school starts

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Tuesday is the deadline for Hamilton youth aged 12 to 17 to get their first COVID-19 vaccine in order to be fully inoculated by the time school starts.

Public health says getting their first dose by July 27 — and their second by Aug. 24 — will ensure students are fully vaccinated two weeks before back-to-school.

As of July 26, only two-thirds of youth in the city, or 65.8 per cent, have received their first dose, while 43.2 per cent of youth have had both shots.

The city is also lagging behind the provincial vaccination rate needed to leave step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan.

In Hamilton, 76.6 per cent of eligible adults have had their first dose and 64.4 per cent have had two.

In order to move into the next phase, 80 per cent of eligible Ontarians must have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 75 per cent must be fully vaccinated with two shots.

Additionally, every public health unit in the province should at least 70 per cent of their population fully vaccinated.

The province’s top doctor has recently said he’d like to see those numbers even higher, considering the threat posed by the more transmissible Delta variant.

“The highest rate we have will allow our society to return to a more normal state — a post-pandemic era — with less fear because there will be less risk of the virus spreading in our communities, spreading to vulnerable populations, spreading in long-term care facilities or overwhelming our health system,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, during a briefing last week.

Hamilton’s medical officer of health said the city still has ‘a bit of a ways to go’ in reaching the provincial targets and is now issuing a ‘call to arms’ to those who still haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19.