With less than two months until the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Ottawa city officials have started looking at new ways to reaching younger and more reluctant residents who still haven't received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brent Moloughney says, when students return to school in the fall, vaccinations will be the key to keeping cases low, but he says he doesn't want to have to force elementary and high school students to get their vaccine.
"We're really striving for voluntary immunizations and we've seen here in Ottawa that youth - our 12 to 17 year-olds - are really leading the province in the uptake of vaccines. We continue encouraging those age groups to get the vaccine and I'm sure parents are involved in those decisions to encourage that," he says.
However, for the last two weeks, vaccination rates have started to plateau, with 83 per cent of eligible residents having received a first dose as of Wednesday, July 22, 2021.
The City of Ottawa's General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services Anthony Di Monte says the city has already started reducing the amount of mass immunization clinics in the city to make up for the reduced demand.
"If we want to continue to increase [first dose vaccination rates], it's going to be important to start having a much more focused approach, instead of a mass vaccination approach," he says.
Di Monte explains that this is idea across the province, with the goal of having everyone vaccinated first, and then focusing on targeted areas second.
Until school starts in September, Di Monte says the city will be taking steps to reach reluctant residents, but if their efforts are unsuccessful, he says they will be setting up clinics in colleges and universities across the city to at least make the vaccines more readily available and accessible.