That’s how Dr. Sudit Ranade best describes how he — and just about everyone else at the health unit — feels more than two years into a pandemic whose ‘sixth wave’ may have peaked.
“I don’t know how else to describe it, other than this ‘ugh’ feeling — that’s pretty much what it is,” Lambton’s medical officer of health said during a media call this week.
“We’re still very committed to helping the community get through COVID-19, and it’s not over. But we are tired. I don’t think there’s any way to sugarcoat that.”
Lambton Public Health continues to respond to COVID-19. But also needed are rest and recovery for burnt-out staff, and a refocus on other public health services, including school-based immunizations, oral and vision screenings and prenatal education, Ranade said.
“We know in the fall there’s going to be some push towards more immunization … and we also have some uncertainty about where this is going over the next few months,” said Ranade. There’s also a likelihood of “increasingly transmissible variants moving through the population and starting to look a more lot like colds and flus,” rather than severe disease, he said.
“Are we there yet? No. Are we getting there? Yes.”
The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is now the dominant circulating strain, Ranade said, adding that a “substantial portion of our population” has been infected with COVID-19 since December.
“We now expect over time that more and more people will become routinely exposed to COVID-19,” he said. “As we look to the future, we’re going to be looking at scenarios where we think more about treating the vaccine like we treat flu shots…offering it on a routine basis.”
Currently, those aged 60 and older are eligible for a fourth dose (booster) of COVID-19 vaccine if at last five months have passed since their last dose.
This week, the Sarnia-Lambton Ontario Health Team announced the arrival of antiviral treatments for those with symptoms and who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19.
Previously, eligible patients had to travel to Windsor or London for the specialized treatment, which is targeted to adults who are immunocompromised, those 70+ with a clinical assessment, those 60+ with fewer than three doses, those 18+ with fewer than three doses and risk conditions, and unvaccinated pregnant individuals.
“This isn’t an over-the-counter medication — you can’t just pop by the pharmacy and pick it up,” said Ranade. “There is a very niche kind of market for this product…you have to be well enough not to be hospitalized, at risk, and such that the medication will not counteract with any of the other medications you take.”
Ranade added that community and media updates from the health unit will be adjusted as needed.
“We just have to remember that what we’re doing is really important,” he said. “We have a really great, caring group of people here who care about each other as much as they care about the community.”