Herd immunity within reach in city, thanks to vaccines

Nearly 74% of populace fully immunized against COVID-19

Here we see an emergency department entrance with no visible activity. de Villa said that our fight against the virus is working.  JESSE GAULT/TORONTO OBSERVER

Toronto is inching its way to herd immunity against COVID-19 through vaccinations.

Some estimates suggest herd immunity can be achieved if 90 per cent of a population is fully vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine.

According to Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, 73.8 per cent of the city’s populace has been immunized against COVID-19 — which put us 16.2 per cent away from herd immunity.

At a recent Board of Health meeting, de Villa expressed optimism over Toronto’s progress in fighting the virus.

“We continue to see slow and steady progress in respect of the proportion of those who are vaccinated in our community, whether we’re looking at those who are eligible for vaccine and how that reflects as well in the overall share of Toronto residents who are now receiving the protective benefit of vaccine and protecting those around them as a result,” de Villa said.

Is it cause for relief and joy? Many Torontonians are busily going about life as usual.

According to the City of Toronto, more than 3,600 vaccine doses are being administered every day in the city. Between Oct. 21 and 27, about 25,000 doses were given.

The figures indicate we are slowly going in the right direction. As of Oct. 21, on top of the 73.8 per cent that was fully vaccinated, an additional 3.7 per cent had their first shot, meaning that 77.5 per cent of Torontonians had at least started the process of getting fully vaccinated, according to City documents.

Of course, we are still in the process of preparing a vaccine for those from the ages of five to 11. But, as covered in a presentation by de Villa, in the ages of 12 and over, on Oct. 21 we had 83 per cent of our population fully vaccinated and 87.2 per cent at least partially vaccinated.

We have multiple methods of fighting the virus, like wearing masks. But, as health officials have aid,it is vaccinations that will be putting the pandemic behind us.

Among those we can currently vaccinate safely, we are only seven percentage points away from that 90 per cent level of herd immunity.

Herd immunity is critically important. It happens when a certain percentage of a population becomes immune to a virus. At that point, person to person transmission of the virus becomes rare. That means that the entire population is then protected from it.

As de Villa recently said, there is cause for relief and gladness. Our strategies to fight the virus appear to be working and this is leading to lower numbers of sick Torontonians.

Child death possible

We have not been vaccinating children from 5 to 11 and the federal government does not recognize an approved vaccine for this age group.

The longer we go without vaccinating this age group, the more children are going to contract the virus, said Dr. Anna Banerji, University fo Toronto professor of paediatrics.

When children do unfortunately become sick with COVID-19, the World Health Organization has found they rarely get seriously ill or as ill as adults do. But in January, an infant in British Columbia was reported to have died of complications related to COVID-19. Thus the possibility of a young child dying from COVID-19 is real.

There is also the fear that when children catch the virus they will spread it to individuals particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, such as the elderly.

Regarding children from five to 11, once this portion of our population is vaccinated, our society will be in a much better position to move past this virus, Banerji said.

Dr. de Villa recently thanked people for pressuring “their friends and their loved ones” to get vaccinated.

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Posted: Oct 30 2021 6:00 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life COVID-19 Government News Science & Health