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Will I get my second dose? Is a fourth wave coming? York Region gets an update on COVID-19

5 take-aways from Dr. Karim Kurji on York's pandemic progress
May 14, 2021
Kim Zarzour

It looks like York Region may escape a fourth wave of COVID-19.

In his weekly update to regional council May 13, Dr. Karim Kurji, the local medical officer of health, shared mostly good news about the region's battle against the coronavirus.

First and foremost, Kurji said, York Region residents are enthusiastically rolling up their sleeves and that, combined with lowering case counts, means there probably will not be a fourth wave in the region, based on current projections.

Here are five more take-aways:

  1. York Region is working with local school boards to determine whether they can open up by May 31 for in-school classes. The decision depends on incidence figures, which are trending downward, and reaching vaccination targets.

"We want to make the conditions right for schools to open safely, for students, teachers and other workers," he said. "It would be up to the boards and the Ministry of Education to determine."

2. Delivery of vaccines for children age 12 and older is expected to begin May 31, likely via a "hub and spoke model" whereby delivery is mainly done through schools, with some access through mass clinics.

"The aim is to have completed school-based immunization before September, preferably by late August for second-dose deliveries," Kurji said.

3. About 60,000 York Region residents have received AstraZeneca, both within the region and outside the borders.

Most second doses are not due until July, so there is time to wait for the province to hear recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.

The U.K. experience shows incidence of blood clots in those with second doses is lower than in first doses -- about one in a million.

There are also some indications that a Pfizer second dose after AstraZeneca first dose may be more protective, although early studies out of the UK suggest there are greater side effects.

The province may give individuals the latest data and allow them to choose, Kurji said.

4. York Region residents may be worried about whether they will get their second dose, but Kurji said public health intends to respect second dose appointments. Vaccines have been set aside for them, he said, although it’s not likely vaccinations will come earlier than the currently anticipated four-month mark because more than 40 per cent of adults and children older than 12 still have not yet received their first doses.

The region is considering ways to make second dose scheduling easier, possibly with reminders sent out to recipients, he said.

"We are very cognizant of the anxieties and the necessity to have customer service and this is paramount in the decision-making process."

5. Almost 60 per cent of York residents have been vaccinated with at least one dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, and Kurji is confident at least 75 per cent, maybe 80 per cent, will have had their shots by the end of the month.

Interest in vaccinations continues to be high, particularly in younger age groups.

Herd immunity is estimated to be reached at between 70 and 80 per cent.