Omicron in Ottawa: Extension of vaccine passports a possible solution to the increase in hospitalizations, experts say

Hospitalizations in Ontario are rising rapidly towards their third wave pandemic peak. As of Sunday, more than 2,400 Ontarians were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 60 in the capital.

Reports of overwhelmed hospitals are coming in from across the country, as epidemics and staffing issues leave healthcare workers exhausted.

“The health care system would not be overwhelmed or about to be overwhelmed if we had a fully vaccinated population,” Dr Peter Juni told CTV News Toronto on Thursday..

The suggestion has led some health experts to look for ways to increase Ontario’s immunization coverage, especially among those who haven’t received a first dose.

“Even increasing the number of vaccinations by a few percentage points seems to make a significant difference and I don’t think we can stress the importance of that,” said Dr Christopher Labos, Montreal-based epidemiologist and cardiologist.

Dr. Juni estimates that there are about 1.5 million unvaccinated Ontarians. One possible initiative to reduce this number could be to follow in Quebec’s footsteps, which will require proof of vaccination to purchase alcohol or cannabis at provincial retailers starting January 18.

According to a publication on the social networks of the Minister of Health of Quebec, appointments for the first doses have increased from about 1,500 per day to over 6,000.

“I think this has clearly turned out to be a successful strategy. I was frankly quite surprised that it was going to be successful, but it was. It just underscores the fact that different people have different sets of priorities and so if you show people what the practical benefits of vaccination are for them to go through the normal routine of their lives, they will, ”Dr Labos said. .

Ottawa residents are divided over the idea, with some hoping Ontario will follow suit.

“Most people get vaccinated, so I think that might encourage other people a little more reluctant,” said an Ottawa resident.

“Ontario should adopt the same policy because it will help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” added Chris, another Ottawa resident.

Others were far from eager to see the change.

“I think you should keep your medical opinions out of whether or not you can buy products,” Kyle said.

“There is no reason for this, it is just an additional restriction,” Ahmad Mokeen said.

In Ottawa, 90 percent of the eligible population has at least one dose of the vaccine, 83 percent are fully immunized.

On Sunday, pharmacist Jordan Clark was running a walk-in clinic offering reminders to people in the education sector. He says his clinic still has occasional appointments for the first dose.

“We have seen first and second doses, every time we see them, especially the first doses, we do everything we can to do them almost immediately because we know there was, at some point, a barrier. for these people and for whatever reason, now that this barrier is gone, ”said Clark.

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