With six weeks to go until schools reopen and two weeks until Aug. 6, the proposed date of moving beyond Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen, Porcupine Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Lianne Catton has written an open letter to local residents. The full text follows:
It’s time to shine Porcupine!
As residents of Northern Ontario, we are known for many things. We’re resilient, adventurous, trustworthy, family- and community-oriented and we’re always ready to help our neighbours.
We’re also known for:
- The coldest and longest winters. But hey, we know how to have fun in our winter wonderland.
- Bears hanging out on our porches, in the middle of town!
- “May Run”.
- An enormous network of lakes and rivers.
- Snowmobile trails that are among the best in the world.
- A powerful mining and lumber industry.
- Rich Indigenous cultures and diverse First Nation communities.
- Strong Francophone heritage.
- Arguably the best poutine.
Unfortunately, for the last few months, we’ve also had national attention for having the highest rates of COVID-19. As hard-working community members, this is not the type of attention that we want.
This is our time to shine and to add another item to our long list of achievements. Let’s draw some positive attention and become the health unit with the highest vaccine rates.
The Province of Ontario has indicated that they would consider reopening past step 3 on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, if, as a province, we have a first dose vaccination rate over 80 per cent for those age 12 and over AND a second dose rate over 75 per cent. Currently, 76 per cent of PHU residents have received their first dose and 63.6 per cent have received their second dose. However, to move forward, no health unit region can have less than 70 per cent of their population fully vaccinated. In our health unit area, that means we must vaccinate an additional 4,633 people with their second dose to meet the 70 per cent target.
We know you can do it. We saw great turnouts a few weeks ago to get us out of a third wave. We have seen hundreds of people come to drop-in clinics for their second dose. Remember when we had cars lined up to the highway in Porcupine? But, with the long-awaited move to Step 3, our vaccination rates have significantly slowed down. We are lower than the provincial vaccine rates and we have to worry that we won’t meet the provincial target for Aug. 6.
It’s our time to shine again for a positive reason. Schedule yourself and your family members for an appointment in a mass immunization clinic or stop in at one of our walk-in clinics. There are plenty of vaccine clinics across the district; we hope to see you at one soon. We are ready for you!
Lianne Catton, MD, CCFP-EM, MPH
Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer
Porcupine Health Unit