Published on September 26, 2022 at 11:24 am
Currently, any Hamilton resident can receive the COVID-19 bivalent booster that targets the Omicron variant.
Previously, the booster was available to people in more vulnerable populations. The announcement of the expanded eligibility coincided with the Public Health Department’s update, presented at a health board meeting on Monday, that “the fall respiratory season is expected to be challenging for our community and our health care systems. This description was provided by Dr. Brandon Lew of Hamilton Public Health Services.
The bivalent booster contains both the original strain of COVID-19 and Omicron (BA.1). The latter is highly contagious and is the most common variant in Hamilton and throughout Ontario.
“As vaccine protection and immunity from previous infection wanes over time, we encourage all Hamiltonians to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination in preparation for the approaching flu and respiratory illness season in big steps,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson. In Monday.
“As we escape cooler temperatures and spend more time indoors together this fall, Hamiltonians 18 and older are now eligible to schedule a bivalent COVID-19 booster appointment to build their ability to fight COVID-19 infection and reduce the risk against severe COVID-19 outcomes like hospitalization, ICU admission, and death.
The bivalent is accessible to those who have:
Children six months to 12 years old can present to public health-led clinics to receive a monovalent COVID-19 vaccine, which provides an extra layer of protection against the health effects of the virus. More information for caregivers is available at kidshealthfirst.ca.
On Monday, HPH presented a forecast to the health board predicting that, without an increase in vaccinations, up to 528 Hamilton residents may need to be hospitalized by the end of this year. Of those hospitalizations, 33 are expected to be intensive care unit (ICU) admissions. In addition, 60 Hamiltonians could lose their lives during this same period, due to the health effects of the virus.
This forecast does not take into account the adoption of the bivalent vaccine. Sorted by generation, 50% of those hospitalized would be people in their 60s and 60s. People aged 80 and over represent 29% of hospitalizations. Fifteen percent would come from adults between the ages of 20 and 49, and 6 percent would come from the 19-and-under cohort.
A recently published McMaster University-led study also showed that some people with “long COVID” may be at increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases.
“Protect yourself and your loved ones”
Public health insists residents should stay home when sick and wear a mask for 10 days after showing symptoms or having close contact with someone thought to be infected.
“We anticipate a significant respiratory virus season and continued pressures on the healthcare system…including the continued need for care-deferral effects,” Lew said.
Hamilton’s two hospital systems are already strained due to backlogs of surgeries and staffing shortages. (Last week, Ontario’s nonpartisan Public Accountants Board revealed that the Ford government only increased health care spending 1% more than planned last year.)
“One of the great tools we have in the winter to reduce the impact of COVID-19, perhaps the most important we have, is the availability of the bivalent vaccine,” said Melissa Farrell, president of St. Joseph’s. Healthcare Hamilton. “I encourage people to get it when they are eligible to help protect themselves and those around them from serious illness from COVID-19.”
This post was echoed by a senior executive at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).
“We know that vaccines provide strong protection against serious illnesses that result in hospitalization,” said Sharon Pierson, executive vice president (clinical operations), chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at HHS. “Hamiltonians have another tool to keep themselves and their loved ones safe while helping to reduce the demand for stressed hospital services.”
The city added that anyone who needs help getting to a COVID-19 vaccination appointment can call DARTS at 905-529-1717 and press 0 or check the Ontario Community Support Association
Some 83.8% of Hamiltonians received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 80.6% completed their primary series by receiving a second dose. Just under half, 49.4%, received a third dose and 14.6% received a fourth dose.
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