Top doctor doesn't think it's time for vaccine incentives yet in Ontario

Jul 20 2021, 9:13 pm

As Canadian provinces race to get remaining residents immunized, Ontario’s top doctor says he doesn’t think further vaccine incentives are needed right now.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, believes further efforts to make vaccination accessible for people are needed before the province brings in lotteries or mandates vaccination to enjoy certain activities.

“We have a lot of work before any kind of mandatory passport or mandate of vaccination,” he said during a Tuesday press conference.

He suggested special buses to transport people to vaccine clinics free of charge and campaigns targeting younger people as avenues to explore before turning to vaccine incentives.

But at the same time, he said incentive programs in other jurisdictions are “reasonable.”

Alberta and Quebec have organize lotteries to encourage vaccination, and at least one business group is calling for mandatory vaccine passes for non-essential activities as a means of prodding people to get their shot.

“Its last mile, or last kilometre, trying to reach the highest level of protection for Ontarians,” Moore said.

About 4.4 million Ontarians are not yet fully immunized. Approximately 1.5 million are under 12 and therefore not eligible to be vaccinated — and Moore called on all remaining eligible individuals to book their shot as soon as possible.

“We can either get immunized or continue to fight outbreaks in our communities in unvaccinated or vulnerable populations,” he said.

Currently about 20% of the population remains unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, which isn’t enough to achieve herd immunity. If we remain at this level, Moore said we’ll continue to see transmission and breakthrough infections.

“Once we’re around 90% of eligible population immunized then the risk of Delta will be less for us.”

About 80% of positive COVID-19 samples in Ontario right now are the Delta variant, he added.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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