The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit may very well not be able to reach the required COVID-19 vaccine targets to exit Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen in time. 

As of today(Thursday), 79 percent of those 12 and older throughout the health unit’s region have received their first dose and 67 percent are fully vaccinated. 

That places SMDHU about one percent away from the provincial target for first doses and three percent away from second dose targets. 

In last week’s health unit update, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner said the health unit is lagging by about five percentage points behind the provincial average for second dose vaccinations. 

That means wherever the province is currently in terms of second doses, the health unit won’t reach for another five days. 

In a statement released today(Thursday), the local health unit reminded residents that it will only be possible to exit Step 3 and lift a majority of COVID-19 restrictions once provincial vaccination coverage targets are met.

Even then, officials add there will be higher targets to aim for, to ensure adequate community protection against the transmissible Delta variant.

Vaccines are available at participating pharmacies, some primary care offices and at mass immunization clinics for both those with booked appointments and those who prefer to walk in. Health unit staff may also be providing vaccines in the community at beaches, parks, farmer’s markets, sports complexes and outdoor retail areas, making it easier than ever to get vaccinated. 

At each of these instances, SMDHU staff providing vaccinations will be wearing blue COVID-19 Vaccine t-shirts and their SMDHU employee badge for identification. 

Residents and visitors aged 12 years and older are encouraged to add getting their COVID-19 vaccines to their summer to do list, before the start of the school year and the arrival of cooler fall weather brings people indoors.