With the municipality lagging behind the rest of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit in vaccination rate, and the COVID-19 Delta variant identified locally, West Nipissing Emergency Control Group (ECG) members are urging residents to get vaccinated if they haven’t yet.
The ECG sounded the alarm on July 23 when there was a surge in cases and the vast majority were in West Nipissing. From July 9 to 22, the Nipissing district reported 33 new positive cases, 27 (82%) of which were from West Nipissing, including one confirmed case of the Delta variant. Five of those infected were children under the age of 12. They also warned that the spread was linked to social gatherings, leading the Health Unit to issue a plea against large gatherings just before the August long weekend.
The ECG noted the link between the lower vaccination rates in the municipality and the spike in local cases, highlighting that 94% of the July infections were in individuals who were not fully immunized. “Two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine has proven effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death,” urged the ECG in its release.
As of July 28, only 54.7% of West Nipissing’s over-12 population had been fully vaccinated; well behind the Health Unit’s overall rate of 66% with two doses. That plateau has the WNECG exploring new ways to get needles into arms as they try to protect as much of the community as possible from COVID-19 and the very contagious Delta variant.
“Initially, we’d have a clinic of a thousand people and thousands of people were being vaccinated every week,” says ECG member and West Nipissing General Hospital CEO Cynthia Desormiers. “What we’re seeing now is small amounts, a couple hundred, and even right now, if we can vaccinate 10 people a day, that’s a victory. That’s 10 more people that are closer to the finish line. So, recognizing that those mass clinics are no longer effective… we’re going to start to set up pop-in clinics and walk-ins.”
For the month of August, there will be evening clinics for walk-in appointments every Thursday at the Sturgeon Falls Arena starting Aug. 12. On Aug. 26, the clinic will move next door to the Marcel Noel Hall.
The Health Unit will also be setting up pop-up clinics all around West Nipissing. The first of these clinics went on Aug. 4 at the River Valley Golden Age Club and the Verner Arena. Another will be held this Saturday (Aug. 7) at the Sturgeon Falls Farmers’ Market.