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‘Now is the time’: Ontario's top doctor urges young people to get vaccinated ahead of possible 4th wave of COVID-19


Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is urging younger people to get vaccinated, saying they are likely to be the ones who will be most impacted by a possible fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic this fall.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Dr. Kieran Moore said he is issuing a call for younger people, especially those between the ages of 20 and 39, to get vaccinated ahead of an anticipated bump in cases.

“We're now having a slow and steady rise in cases absolutely expected for a virus that prefers low humidity and colder temperatures and it will come back,” Moore said.

He said as people gather together more closely indoors and the temperatures go down, the virus “will tend to want to take off.”

“Given the vast majority of our elderly individuals are protected, we anticipate that the admissions to hospital and the burden of illness that will require hospitalization will be in younger age groups,” Moore said. “We saw that in wave three, where it was a progressive increase in people under 60 that were actually requiring to come into hospital to get extra oxygen and or to be ventilated, and that is the age group where we anticipate the fourth rise in cases, the fourth wave will affect.”

Moore called the highly infectious Delta variant, first detected in India and now tearing through unvaccinated populations around the world, a “humbling foe” and said the province’s aspirational vaccination goal to protect against the more dangerous variant is around 90 per cent.

The goal of 90 per cent being fully vaccinated has been reached in Ontario for those who are 70 and up, but the rate drops down to around 85 per cent for those in their 60s, 75 per cent for those in their 50s and even lower for younger groups.

Just 58.5 per cent of those 18-29 are fully vaccinated so far, while 72 per cent in that age group have had at least one dose.

Among those 30-39, 64 per cent are fully vaccinated, while 75 per cent have had at least one dose.

Moore said that he is hopeful that vaccination numbers will climb higher as students return to university and college campuses in in the fall.

A number of Ontario universities have said that vaccinations will be mandatory in order to attend classes, participate in sports and to take part in a number of other events and activities on campus.

“So I hope that our numbers of people vaccinated will increase over the coming weeks, as I think people have been putting it off in the summer, the summer doldrums, and would anticipate that the risk will go up in September,” Moore said.

He implored those who haven’t yet had a first or second shot to “step up” and pointed out that the most recent data show people who are unvaccinated are approximately eight times more likely to get infected with COVID-19, compared to fully vaccinated individuals and that unvaccinated adults 60 years of age and older are approximately 15 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19, compared to those who are fully vaccinated.

“So if you haven't rolled up your sleeve to get your shot, now's the time as we head into the fall. This is especially critical for our college or university aged Ontarians, anyone aged 20 to 39 years of age who have lower rates of vaccination and account for the majority of new cases on a daily basis across Ontario,” Moore said.

“I want to impress upon you the importance of achieving the highest vaccination rate possible, especially in our cities.”

In a series of tweets Tuesday, epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman warned that even with low rates of serious illness among young children, hundreds of kids under 12 could still become severely ill from COVID-19 if Delta tears through schools in the fall and predicted that including unvaccinated adults, the province could be “headed for an iceberg” this fall.

Moore told reporters that while he is concerned about college campuses where many social spaces are not controlled, he feels “very confident” in Ontario’s back-to-school plan, which will include cohorting, testing and masking.


More said that Ontario was likely to see case numbers climb in the fall as the weather changes and people spend more time indoors, but that it is not necessarily a cause for panic.

He said that a rise in case numbers is expected with re-opening and the attendant increase in socializing, and that the province will be keeping a very close eye on rates of hospitalization and ICU admissions in order to make sure that numbers are not rising in a dangerous way.

He also said that moving forward the province will try and handle any concerning changes in the metrics at the local and regional levels rather than through provincewide measures.

He noted that vaccination rates vary among different communities across the province, with some hitting rates as high as around 89 per cent, and that larger cities are likely to be more affected by a fourth wave.

“We do anticipate that there'll be different regions that are affected, given that Ontario has different immunization rates, that some communities are achieving very, very high protection, and may be spared any significant rise in cases whereas our large urban settings I think will have the highest burden of illness and will need to have the highest rates of immunization protection,” Moore said.

Local public health units are empowered to enact orders to limit interactions to some extent under the Reopening Ontario Act and could do so if deemed necessary.

“The public health measures to control and limit the spread hence will not necessarily have to be provincewide, they'll be focused by a local public health agency and or a regional level to control the spread of the virus. That's the way we're thinking that it's going to be going,” Moore said.

Premier Doug Ford has insisted that Ontario will not have another provincewide lockdown In order to manage the virus.


While Ontario has achieved a relatively high vaccination rate compared to other jurisdictions, many epidemiologists and business groups have called for some sort of proof-of-vaccination system that would allow businesses and events to know that their patrons are vaccinated as an extra safety measure.

However Ford has resisted the idea of a local vaccine passport, saying that it would create a “split society.”

Pressed Tuesday About why Ontario is not considering the move, Moore called it “a government decision.”

“So I think it's a government decision not to have mandatory immunization policies. And they, I think, they'll review policies over time and I don't think any door has been formally closed,” Moore said. “But we are achieving the goals we wanted to achieve through our local public health agencies partnering with pharmacies, primary care and have a very robust world class strategy, and as such I don't think it's absolutely necessary right now.

“I do think we're going to see an acceleration in doses as we head into September – and I know people have concerns that it has quieted – but I'm very confident as we head to September we'll have more and more people coming forward as they realize the risk is going to rise in September as we head indoors, and all of that will occur without a mandate, without a passport. Top Stories

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