October 13 – Board of Health Summary

Written by Comms Team, October 15, 2021

Introduction of Dr. Ian Gemmill, Acting Medical Officer of Health

Board of Health Chair Andy Mitchell introduced Dr. Ian Gemmill, acting Medical Officer of Health, who attended the meeting remotely. Dr. Gemmill is regularly in touch with PPH staff to support the COVID-19 response and other public health matters as they arise.

COVID-19 Update

Donna Churipuy, Director of Public Health Programs, shared the latest data regarding local COVID-19 cases and close contacts. On average there are 10.9 close contacts per case, which is higher than earlier in the pandemic, as well as a trend indicating younger residents are becoming infected more often (since they remain unvaccinated). PPH’s current case incidence rate at 32 cases per 100,000 is lower than the provincial rate of 50 cases per 100,000. From the period of December 14, 2020 to September 18, 2021, over 90% of all local cases are in unvaccinated residents, 7.4% are partially vaccinated and 2.2% represent breakthrough cases (fully vaccinated). The local number of breakthrough cases is similar in proportion to provincial rates. Local vaccination rates have reached 86% of all eligible residents with one dose, and 82% have two doses. Planning is underway to address need to vaccinate our local population on many fronts, including continued COVID-19 vaccination, influenza, Grade 7 vaccinations (HPV, meningococcal disease and Hepatitis A) and other routine immunizations. Third COVID-19 doses are now authorized for seniors in congregate living settings (including retirement homes) and other individuals with high-risk health conditions. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends co-administration of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines. There are presently 34 open investigations in response to complaints regarding non-compliance of proof of vaccination requirements. Local establishments charged with noncompliance are disclosed on the PPH website here.

Food For Kids Student Nutrition Programs – Annual Report 2020-2021

The Board reviewed the latest achievements of Food For Kids, our local Student Nutrition Program (SNP). Prior to the pandemic, data showed that 30% of households with children under the age of 18 in the County and City of Peterborough experienced food insecurity compared to 15.5% in Ontario. While more recent local data is not available, it is known that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many Canadians experiencing income loss, and the rate of food insecurity has risen (39% increase compared to 2017-2018 Canadian Community Health Survey, where 10% of households experience food insecurity). SNPs such as Food for Kids adopt a universal approach by providing all students with the opportunity to participate, regardless of socioeconomic status. This reduces stigma and discrimination, and supports Food for Kids’ philosophy that all students deserve the opportunity to arrive at school ready to learn. In 2020-2021, a total of 18,710 local students had access to programs in 50 schools throughout the City and County. Last year, and when schools closed, Food for Kids continued to work with community partners to help feed hungry students. School food boxes with local produce and cheese fed at-school learners. Vulnerable families of school-age children received food baskets for at-home learners, grocery gift cards and fresh produce boxes. The full Food For Kids 2020-2021 Annual Report can be found here.

Healthcare Worker Influenza Immunization Vaccination Rates 2020-2021

Influenza transmission and outbreaks in hospitals and long-term care homes (LTCHs) are well documented and can result in significant patient, resident and staff morbidity and mortality. These outbreaks can affect staffing and bed availability, thereby interfering with patient care and patient flow. The increased risk of influenza to residents and patients in these facilities is related to their advanced age and underlying health problems, as well as the settings in which they are cared for in close proximity to a range of healthcare workers (HCWs). HCWs can acquire influenza from patients/residents, and the community, and then may readily transmit infection to other patients/residents, other HCWs and their family members. Influenza immunization is identified as the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus, and immunization of HCWs protects patients/residents. Lower rates of HCW immunization have been associated with increased rates of hospital-acquired influenza. Influenza immunization of health care workers protects the patients/residents they care for as well as themselves, who may be at greater risk due to the settings in which they work. The Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care require reporting of influenza vaccine coverage rates for staff from hospitals and long-term care homes to Boards of Health. The staff immunization coverage rates were collected as of February 1, 2021 and are available in the online Board of Health meeting package on page 45. The median vaccination rate of all long-term care homes was 87.2%, up 5.1% from the previous year. Influenza vaccination rates among staff at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre also increased from last year, up 3.4% to 84.5%.

Next meeting:

The Board of Health will gather again in accordance to current public health guidelines on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. in Jackson Square, located at 159 King St., Peterborough.

A list of Board of Health meeting dates and locations can be found here.