COVID UPDATE: 20% have had first shots locally, but variants spreading rapidly

Journal Staff

Easier to spread and possibly deadlier variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are spreading rapidly in Sarnia-Lambton.

Lambton Public Health said today 122 people have tested positive for a Variant of Concern, which is double the number from last week.

Of the known cases, 63 involve the UK variant and test results are pending on the others.

The UK variant is the top Variant of Concern in Canada and accounts for 99% of cases in the UK. It first appeared in Canada three months ago, Lambton Public Health said.

Variants of Concern may may spread more rapidly or cause more severe illness. Others known to be spreading in Ontario include the South African variant and Brazilian variant.

Meanwhile, 20% of the eligible residents of Sarnia-Lambton have now received at least one dose of vaccine (compared to 13% across Canada),

A total of 21,497 first shots have been administered, and 1,545 people have had both shots, the health unit said today.

Pre-registration began this week for others in Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout.

They include:

* Elementary and secondary school staff

* Childcare and licensed foster care workers

* Faith leaders who provide end-of-life care, funerals, home visits to the ill, visits in hospital or long-term care

* Police, fire, compliance, funeral, special constables and other workers responding to critical events

* Bylaw enforcement, building inspectors, food inspectors, animal welfare inspectors, border inspection officers, labour inspectors

* Food manufacturing workers

*Agricultural and farm workers

Individuals 70 to 74 years of age (or turning 70 in 2021) as well as one in-home caregiver began getting their first shots this week.

Eligibility and registration details can be found at the Lambton Public Health website vaccination registration page.

Those who pre-register will get an email invitation to schedule an immunization appointment directly from the Ontario booking system within 48 to 72 hours.

Sarnia is working with Lambton Public Health to prepare an additional mass immunization clinic at Clearwater Arena, like the one at Point Edward Arena.

“Momentum is building for Lambton County’s COVID-19 immunization rollout,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton’s Medical Offer of Health.

“We have vaccinated almost all who were eligible in Phase 1 and are now beginning to move onto the individuals outlined in Phase 2.”

Ontario has extended the interval time between first and second doses of three COVID-19 vaccines to 16 weeks (Modern, Pfizer & AstraZeneca).

Those who received a first dose prior to March 10 will need to reschedule their second dose appointment. Lambton Public Health will contact those impacted and are asking people not to call and tie up busy phone lines.

Information and updates regarding second doses will be posted on www.getthevaccine.ca

To speed the process, those getting a shot are asked to print and complete the provincial consent form prior to their vaccination appointment.

Those without a printer can visit a Lambton County Library branch during opening hours, park in the Curbside Pickup area, call the number on the sign, and ask for a vaccine screening and consent form. There is no charge for a printed copy and you do not need a library card.

For updates on the region’s COVID-19 immunization rollout visit getthevaccine.ca