Hamilton’s second mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic for the public opened up at the Centre on Barton Thursday and is set to be another important piece of the city’s plan to administer an anticipated influx of vaccine doses over the next few months.
In a release, public health said demand is expected to be fueled by the impending approval of a shot for children ages five to 11, likely on Friday, and the possibility that third doses will be around in January for anyone in the eligible 12-plus population who wants it.
The new fixed clinic at 1211 Barton St. E., joins the Lime Ridge Mall site which opened two weeks ago. Both are expected to have the capacity to administer 550 COVID-19 vaccine doses per day.
The city has one other mass clinic, for health-care workers only, at the Hamilton Health Sciences west end clinic on Main Street West.
Hours of operation at the Barton location will alternate on a bi-weekly basis with the first three days of operation between 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. moving to 1 to 7 p.m. between Nov. 22 and 28.
In a board of health meeting on Monday, the manager of Hamilton’s vaccination response team said despite the impending approval of vaccines for five to 11, the timeline for shots has not yet been determined.
“Exactly when the vaccines will become available to five to 11-year-olds in Hamilton will depend on the timing of the Health Canada approval and the receipt of the vaccine supply into Hamilton,” said Melissa Biksa.
Dr. Julia Orkin, a pediatrician with Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, says parents who may be hesitant about shots for kids or concerned about side effects should keep in mind that the new Pfizer doses are not the same size as those given to the 12-plus population.
“So despite it being a lesser dose, the immune response is great,” Orkin told Global News.
“That lesser dose often translates to less side effects, so it’s possible that your child may have a sore arm, feel tired or be unwell afterward, but probably more unlikely because of the dose that’s given.”
Over the next five weeks, public health partners will be launching five in-school COVID-19 vaccine clinics at the five secondary schools with the lowest coverage rates.
The sessions will be open to Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and Catholic (HWCDSB) students, their families, staff in each school community, plus any eligible students from elementary feeder schools.
First and second doses will continue to be available for walk-up and through online bookings via the city’s VERTO system. Third doses are by appointment only via VERTO.
Primary care partners and pharmacies are the main stops for third shots with mass and targeted mobile clinics likely coming into the fold in 2022.
To date, the city has administered 11,000 third doses which are currently recommended but not mandatory.
Over 82% of eligible 12-plus population fully vaccinated in Hamilton
Over the last seven days Hamilton’s health partners have put just over 8,500 vaccine doses into arms, with Friday recording the largest intake since Oct. 8 – 1,772 shots.
That number is well above the monthly average of daily doses administered so far for November, which is 1,044 per day.
November’s average so far is slightly less than what was recorded for all of October, 1,068 shots per day, and farther behind September’s average of 1,488 per day.
As of Wednesday, 82.6 per cent of eligible Hamiltonians over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated while 85.9 per cent have had at least a single jab. The city is still behind the provincial average which sees 85.7 per cent fully vaccinated and 88.8 with at least one vaccine dose.
Residents aged 70 to 84 have reached the ministry of health’s target of 90 per cent first and second dose coverage, meanwhile Hamiltonians aged 25 to 29 represent the lowest vaccination rates in the community at just 72.3 per cent fully vaccinated.
Public health estimates that about one in 10 Hamiltonians is being vaccinated outside of the city.
Hamilton is behind 31 other public health units in the percentage of two-dose vaccinations in Ontario.
Hamilton’s weekly COVID-19 case rates drops slightly
Hamilton’s daily COVID-19 case rate remains flat week over week, with public health reporting a seven-day average case rate of 15 as of Wednesday, two fewer than the daily average so far for all of November.
The rate is much lower than the daily average recorded for October, which was 22 cases per day.
Active cases were up day over day from 121 reported Tuesday to 144 on Wednesday.
More than 62 per cent of all active cases are in people under the age of 50, while 40 per cent are under 30.
Since the pandemic started in March of 2020, Hamilton has reported 25,526 COVID cases.
There are eight reported outbreaks tied to 53 total cases across the city as of Nov. 17. The largest is at St. Peter’s Hospital which has 18 total cases — four among staff and 14 among patients.
Outbreaks at schools include cases at two public entities and two private facilities.
The largest is with the Catholic school board’s St. Gabriel Elementary on Barton Street in Stoney Creek which has seen total cases grow by seven in the last couple of days to nine student cases.
In the last 14 days, both public boards combined have reported 40 cases with 36 among students.
Hospitals in Hamilton are reporting a total of 22 COVID patients as of Thursday, including six people in intensive care units (ICU).
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