Vaccination rates in Oshawa continue to rise as Durham tries to fight the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.
As of Monday, 107,321 Oshawa residents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 58.5 percent of the total population and 68.3 percent of the adult population.
In addition, 28,682 Oshawa residents were fully vaccinated (15.6 percent of the total population, 19.4 percent of the adult population).
Oshawa, the most populous community in Durham, has the most vaccinated people among the communities in the area but continues to have the lowest vaccination rate.
In any other community, more than 70 percent of the adult population is vaccinated; Uxbridge leads Durham with 78.2 adult residents.
Oshawa tracks regional vaccination rates in every age group except for those aged 90 and over. Of 12-17 year olds, 57.1 percent had at least one vaccination, the lowest rate in Durham.
COVID-19 rates in Durham have fallen dramatically since their peak during the third wave in the spring. There were 109 active cases as of Monday, including 34 in Oshawa.
But even if rates drop, there is a race to vaccinate people as the delta variant spreads. Last week, Durham was named a hotspot for the Delta variant and listed among the communities where the province will speed up vaccinations. Durham residents over 18 are entitled to their second dose 28 days after their first Moderna or Pfizer dose, or eight weeks after their first AstraZeneca injection.
According to new data from the health department, there were 26 confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Durham.
Across Durham, efforts are being made to vaccinate as much of the population as possible and to address vaccination hesitation.
Andrew Thomas, a Bowmanville family doctor, is vice president of the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario (BPAO).
In early June, he worked with the Health Department, BPAO, Lakeridge, Carea Community Health Center and DurhamONE to organize a pop-up clinic aimed at vaccinating Black, African and Caribbean residents of Durham.
“Unfortunately, black people were overrepresented in COVID-19 infections and poor results and now we unfortunately see a lower probability of being vaccinated with the introduction,” explains Thomas.
“Part of it is talk of vaccination hesitation, which sometimes puts the blame on the person. We really see it as a distrust of the health system because black people have gone through a lot in health care, and these historical and non-historical factors play a role to this day.
Although Durham numbers are not available, December data from Toronto showed COVID-19 hospital admissions were three times higher for blacks than for whites. A March Statistics Canada report also showed greater reluctance among black Canadians than the national average.
The Ajax event included black vaccinates and people answering questions, and Thomas also told reluctant patients that he was vaccinated himself.
“Because I work in long-term care, I was vaccinated in early January … I find it helpful when you see someone who looks like you who has been injected,” says Thomas, adding a follow-up clinic for second doses planned.
In Oshawa, the health department also ran a vaccination clinic for the homeless. This event also took place in the town hall at the beginning of June.
Pop-up vaccination clinics have been held in Oshawa schools and Lakeview Park.
Jennifer French, MPP of Oshawa, has asked for a vaccination clinic in the south of the city – the current mass vaccination clinic is on the Ontario Tech University campus in north Oshawa, and Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter has confirmed it. He said the city offered options to the health department, including use of the children’s arena in central Oshawa. Carter said General Motors officials supported the holding of drive-through clinics in the GM car park south of the city.
“From day one we said we needed another location, either in the center or south of Oshawa,” Carter said.
Story behind the story: We looked at Oshawa’s vaccination rates as Durham is cited as a hotspot for the Delta variant of COVID-19.