Like the last leg of a marathon, public health officials say reaching the final segment of the unvaccinated population will be a grind as Ottawa tries to attain herd immunity — when enough of the population is protected against COVID-19.
The city of Ottawa has set a daunting target to fully vaccinate 90 per cent of its population, including those still not eligible to be vaccinated, which has eluded most regions around the world.
As of July 23, 73 per cent of the city’s entire population had received at least one dose of vaccine, slightly higher than the Ontario rate of 69 per cent, and one of the highest vaccination rates for first doses among cities around the world.
Ontario’s first-shot vaccination rate has dropped from a high of six per cent per week in May to below one per cent in July, and it continues to trend downward. That means it will take longer to inoculate the remaining portion of the unvaccinated population — likely a venture that continues into 2022.
“I think I can’t understate how important it is to get very high levels of vaccination,” said Dr. Trevor Arnason of Ottawa Public Health.
“If we head into the fall with vaccination where it is now, we’re definitely going to see outbreaks.”
Vaccination targets need to change
Ontario, which has now been in Stage 3 of the reopening plan for 10 days, must reach 80 per cent of its eligible population with at least one dose, and 75 per cent with both doses, to consider removing all public health restrictions.
Some public health experts believe that target is not high enough due to the growing number of cases of the delta variant and the potential for breakthrough cases.
“We need to establish herd immunity, and we would need to be at a higher level: 85, 90 per cent vaccination rates,” explained Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, who also heads a group of public health units across Ontario.
Roumeliotis and Arnason say restrictions could return in the fall if delta spreads, even if they’re not as strict as those we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. Ontario public health officials hope to avoid a spike in cases seen during the reopening in the U.K., Israel, and the United States.
A comparable situation exists in the Netherlands, which has a population only slightly larger than Ontario, and similar vaccination rates. There, cases jumped to 10,000 per day only a few weeks after reopening due to the delta variant, which is now responsible for more than 80 per cent of new infections in Ontario.
WATCH: Getting people ‘through the doors’ biggest part of vaccinating holdouts, doctor says:
‘Get them through the doors’
Officials estimate anywhere from five to 10 per cent of the population will never get the COVID-19 vaccine, but they need to target those who will roll up their sleeves to help avoid a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Health-care workers at community clinics, including one at Lansdowne in Ottawa, have used lulls in the day to approach people nearby about getting the vaccine.
“The first thing is to get them through the doors, that’s the hardest part,” said Dr. Lorne Wiesenfeld, an emergency physician at The Ottawa Hospital who has also spent time administering the vaccine.
“You want to make it easy. Just remove one barrier that may hinder them, encouraging them in a non-judgmental way.”
Half of Ottawa’s community clinics closed last week as Ottawa Public Health refocused its outreach by offering mobile vaccine clinics at workplaces, community organizations and places of worship, as well as pop-up clinics throughout the city to target young adults.
in Ottawa, only 72 per cent of the population aged 18-29 have the first dose, which is the lowest of any age demographic. That is followed closely by 73 per cent of those aged 30-39 with at least one dose.
Public health messaging difficult with low case numbers
The “receptivity” of public health messaging about the risk of a delta resurgence is non-existent when the number of active cases of COVID-19 remains low and pandemic fatigue persists, according to Doug Manuel, senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.
People may only begin to become more sensitive to messaging if cases begin to rise, as they have in the U.K. and Israel, Manuel said.
Public health officials believe the 90 per cent goal is attainable partly because Ottawa has traditionally reached higher rates of vaccination for the flu and child immunization programs.
Arnason says once children younger than 12 become eligible, which could happen in the fall, the city could see a bump of about 10 per cent with at least one dose.
“I think Ottawa is one of those places where there’s no reason why we can’t be a world leader,” he said.
Oil Prices Jump As Crude, Fuel Inventories Continue To Fall – OilPrice.com
The American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday reported a draw in crude oil inventories of 6.108 million barrels for the week ending September 17.
It exceeded the analyst expectations who had estimated a loss of 2.400 million barrels for the week.
In the previous week, the API reported a draw in oil inventories of 5.437 million barrels—a larger loss than the 3.903 million barrel draw that analysts had predicted.
Oil prices rose on Tuesday leading up to the data release, with U.S. crude oil inventories falling weekly, OPEC+ production that is not as strong as the market had anticipated, and depressed oil production in the United States as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
WTI rose 0.31% on Tuesday afternoon leading up to the data release.
Oil inventories in the United States have drawn down considerably so far in 2021, shedding more than 76 million barrels according to API data, and below pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, the EIA’s latest data suggests that crude oil inventories in the United States are now 7% under the five-year average for this time of year, at 417.4 million barrels.
Most recently, U.S. oil production has been down more than a million bpd over the last couple of weeks, sitting at just 10.1 million bpd for week ending September 10 as Hurricane Ida continued to shut in oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico. 16.64% of GoM oil production is still shut in today, according to the BSEE.
The API reported a draw in gasoline inventories of 432,000 barrels for the week ending September 17—compared to the previous week’s 2.761-barrel draw.
Distillate stocks saw a decrease in inventories this week of 2.720 million barrels for the week, compared to last week’s 2.888-million-barrel decrease.
Cushing inventories fell this week by 1.748 million barrels after last week’s 1.345-million-barrel decrease.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.
B.C. preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccine to 6- to 11-year-olds once approved – Globalnews.ca
British Columbia is “actively preparing” to provide the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children aged six to 11, if and when it receives Health Canada approval.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday there is optimism around approvals as phase two and phase three studies are finishing up.
The information from the studies will be part of data package being submitted over the next few weeks on how well the vaccines work and how safe they are, Henry said.
Study finds Pfizer vaccine safe and effective for children 5 to 11 years-old
“I think that’s very good news,” she told a news conference.
“That gives us just one more tool to be able to protect younger children against this virus.”
But she was reluctant to put a timeline on when children may be eligible for the shot. In previous statements, Henry has pointed anywhere from the fall to the end of 2021.
On Monday, Pfizer said its research shows its product works for children aged five to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon.
But Henry said Tuesday they are looking at children between six and 11 being eligible.
Pfizer says their vaccine works for children 5-11
Health Canada has said several studies on children are underway by various vaccine makers, and that it expects them to provide data in the next few months.
Pfizer studied a lower dose of its two-dose vaccine in more than 2,200 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids, mostly in the United States and Europe.
Preparing the vaccine at a lower dose could have some logistical challenges, however.
“We do know that there may be some delays before the manufacturing process,” Henry said.
“This means the vaccine will be available to children in B.C., but we are preparing so that we’re ready to offer it and we have all of the information that parents will need to make those decisions about whether their children should be immunized, and I think this will be very important, especially as we are into the school year again.”
– with files from the Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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