WECHU gives last COVID-19 update as public health aims to catch up on other services

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) gave its last COVID-19 update Thursday for the near future. 

WECHU will continue to update its COVID-19 local data on its website on Thursdays. 

“COVID-19 is not going away … but I think as we go forward we will need to learn to manage and live with COVID-19 like we’ve learned to live and manage other diseases,” acting medical officer of health, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, said during the briefing. 

“Discontinuing of media briefings reflects the fact we’re working to normalize, to recognize COVID-19 is going to be a normal part of public health management plan moving forward.”

Local COVID-19 indicators appear to show the virus has remained stable in the region. 

The number of people hospitalized with the diseases did not change the week before, but did decline across Ontario. ICU admissions did decrease in Windsor-Essex. 

Wastewater data showed a slight decline of the virus in Windsor-Essex for the latest recorded week. 

Reported outbreaks have also deceased. 

Third-dose vaccine coverage remains low in kids aged 12-17 sitting at about 11 per cent. Those aged 80 and older have the highest third-dose coverage rate at 89.1 per cent. 

13,000 high school kids’ vaccine records not up to date

WECHU previously said it would scale back on reporting data in the region and would be ending its weekly YouTube updates as more staff move into their pre-pandemic roles and public health returns more services in the community. 

That includes vaccination programs at the elementary and secondary school levels. 

WECHU said Thursday that 13,000 high school students have incomplete vaccination records. Officials say this is in part due to the vaccine program hiatus of the last two years, when health-care professionals did not attend the schools to offer routine vaccines for things like measles, HPV, and hepatitis. 

Nesathurai said only about one per cent of eligible kids in Windsor-Essex have received an HPV vaccine, which can prevent certain cancers. 

WECHU keeps record of students’ vaccines as dictated by the Immunization of School Pupils Act. Students who do not have an up-to-date vaccine record could be suspended from school in the 2022-2023 season, thought the health unit said they would prefer not to issue and suspensions and that families update those records. 

The health unit said they issued notices this week to families who may have a student who is not up to date. 

For those looking to update their records or receive a vaccine, the health unit provided these options:

1. Submitting updated immunization records to WECHU:             

  •     Secure Online Reporting: https://immune.wechu.org
  •     Phone: 519-960-0231 or 1-800-265-5822 extension 1222 (toll-free)
  •     Fax: 519-258-7288

2. Contacting their health care provider to obtain information and any missing vaccinations.

3. Booking an appointment at a WECHU Immunization Clinic:

  • WECHU is hosting daily clinics in the community and at the Health Unit offices by appointment only. Public health nurses will be available to update the student’s immunization record and/or administer vaccines for Hepatitis B, HPV, and Meningococcal disease if needed. An appointment can be booked online at www.wechu.org/getimmunized or by calling 519-258-2146 Ext. 4500.

Students who do not have an updated record in the 2022-2023 year, could be suspended from school for up to 20 days. 

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