Niagara's chief medical officer has some good news regarding COVID-19. So far, in Ontario and Niagara, cases seem to have flattened out and even be dropping.
During a public health news conference Monday, Dr. Mustafa Hirji said that means the worries of a bad fourth wave have been “paused temporarily.”
However, he does think “there's lots of risk as we go through the rest of the fall.”
“As weather gets cooler, people spend more time indoors, they're going to socially interact more, that's going to start to push those cases back up. We're going to have some big celebration-type gatherings around Thanksgiving, Halloween — all of those are going to put risks that we're going to see cases go up,” he said.
“But nonetheless I think it's very good news for us right now that we are buying ourselves more time to get people vaccinated.”
He suspects the reason cases are lower is that people have cut back on social activities, knowing there was a risk of large fourth wave, in combination with getting back into work mode and having less time to socialize.
Public health is also preparing to roll out doses of a reformulated pediatric Pfizer vaccine to kids aged five to 11 as soon as it's approved. Hirji said there are about 32,500 children in that age range in Niagara.
He said the agency is working on a campaign to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated, noting elementary schools “are being very much affected” by COVID.
One challenge with the rollout is actually getting the vaccine, since it won't be the same one as is currently stored in freezers.
“Once it's approved, we're going to we need to get ahold of that vaccine. I'm hoping it's going to be readily available, but it's quite possible that we won't be able to get ahold of very much initially,” he said.
While the risk of severe illness in children is much less than an adult, he said it's absolutely not a risk parents should be taking.
“Definitely we see that amongst children the chance to severe illness are much less. That being said we do definitely have a handful of children who have been hospitalized with COVID-19,” he said.
“The other part is that if (children) are infected, it's a very high risk of spread within the household, so anybody else in a home who is unvaccinated is going to be particularly at risk.”