DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,
for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) has seen a lot of progress on the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in recent weeks.


The local health unit recently surpassed the provincial government’s goal of having 65 percent of Ontarians aged 18 and older receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May.


“I think that’s quite exciting, and quite a huge achievement for residents in our region and all of the healthcare partners and community organizations [which] have been participating in supporting this vaccine roll-out,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Natalie Bocking told reporters, on Wednesday, June 2nd.


For youth ages 12 to 17, HKPR is starting youth-specific vaccine clinics. Dr. Bocking noted there are “youth-specific clinics being posted through the provincial booking system, during the weeks of June 14th and June 21st.” She explained these clinics have a goal, to have all youth vaccinated “at least two weeks before school starts again, in September or [the] end of August.”


In an email to The Standard, HKPR communications staff stated there are “4,320 youth-only appointments, available through clinics in all three counties,” and these youth are also “able to book appointments through pharmacies and their primary health care providers.”


With new daily COVID-19 cases in Kawartha Lakes being reported in the single digits, Dr. Bocking stated the situation is “really moving in the right direction.” The health unit is hopeful “this is really reaching the end of this third wave.”


The Ontario government recently let the stay-at-home order expire.


“The same public health measures or restrictions, regarding gatherings [and] which amenities or facilities are open, are not the same as they were, because [there is no] stay at home order, but [they’re] still fairly strict,” Dr. Bocking explained.


While the health unit and their local healthcare partners are making progress on vaccinating residents, Dr. Bocking stressed people should continue to follow public health measures.


“We’ve made a lot of progress in terms of vaccinations. I think we still have a little ways to go, so [I] still encourage people to follow those public health measures, including right now really restricting social gatherings. This is not the time, yet, to go out and host your large barbecue,” she said.