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SMDHU commends province for announcing additional public health measures

Dec 17, 2021
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – As the highly transmissible Omicron variant takes hold as the dominant strain in Ontario, and as transmission rates and cases of COVID-19 continue to rise locally, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) commends the province for making the difficult decision to implement further restrictions to help avoid the anticipated surge of COVID-19 transmission and its potentially severe health outcomes.

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – As the highly transmissible Omicron variant takes hold as the dominant strain in Ontario, and as transmission rates and cases of COVID-19 continue to rise locally, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) commends the province for making the difficult decision to implement further restrictions to help avoid the anticipated surge of COVID-19 transmission and its potentially severe health outcomes.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news and I applaud Premier Doug Ford and the provincial government for making what I know is a very difficult but essential decision that prioritizes the health of people and protects our already over-burdened health care and public health resources,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health. “Based on the local rate of transmission of the Omicron variant and modelling from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, we know that we are facing what has the potential to be a dire situation and that further restrictions are necessary to stem this tide. I acknowledge that this is not the news that residents and businesses want to hear, especially during this holiday season. But I’m confident if we all follow these restrictions, get vaccinated and follow the standard public health measures we can manage this crisis.”

The new provincial measures will come into force on Sunday, Dec. 19. While these restrictions are needed to help reduce the number and severity of COVID-19 cases and limit the risk of transmission, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants is through vaccination. As cases of Omicron increase, there is evidence that while two doses provide some protection against hospitalization there is an urgent need for booster doses for everyone who is eligible to receive one, particularly for the older population.

The health unit is conducting a vaccination blitz focusing on providing booster doses for eligible individuals aged 50 years and older and encouraging families to have their children aged five to 11 years vaccinated with the paediatric dose. On Monday, Dec. 20, appointments for booster doses will open to individuals aged 18 years or older who received a second vaccine dose no less than three months ago. Appointments can be booked at an SMDHU community clinic through the COVID-19 Vaccination Portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Other locations offering booster and third doses by appointment include the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at 29 Sperling Dr. in Barrie, the Cottage Country Family Health Team in Gravenhurst and the Algonquin Family Health Team in Huntsville. Additional vaccination options include appointments through the Couchiching Ontario Health Team Clinic, some health care providers and family health teams, select pharmacies, the GO-VAXX Bus, and some Indigenous-led clinics. All other individuals who have not yet received a first or second dose of vaccine are encouraged to do so as soon as possible and may also book an appointment for one of these options.

SMDHU reminds residents that it is also essential to follow current public health measures, including staying home when feeling ill and getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, limiting your social contacts and maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from those living outside of your household, wearing a mask indoors and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, covering your cough, and washing your hands regularly.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and current public health safety measures and requirements, visit smdhu.org/covid19.

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