Preparing for the fourth wave

I am absolutely exhausted with this relentless pandemic. You are too. But, as much as we don’t like it, we must confront the fourth wave. Daily case numbers in Ontario are increasing (218 today) with a reproduction value that remains above 1. The fourth wave of the pandemic driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant is here. RNAO has been listening to the experts and warning about this for weeks.

The fourth wave will be the wave of the unvaccinated and the vulnerable. RNAO launched the #FullyVaccinated campaign and is advocating for #MandatoryVaccination for healthcare workers and education staff (except for medical exemptions), as well as a safe school reopening plan. Today’s tweeter thread by Ryan Imgrund shows the powerful effects of the vaccine on preventing infection, hospitalization and death from the virus. For the RNAO campaigns please see the Media Report below.

The safe school plan is essential as Ontario’s 4,800+ elementary and secondary schools will house this fall the greatest number of unvaccinated persons in congregate settings in the province. Children under 12 are not eligible to vaccinate and only 45.4% of students between ages 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated. Although much better than the rest of Canada at 37.3%, it still means that each second student in this cohort is not fully vaccinated. Thus, we must diminish the risks for children this fall and winter and by extension the risk for their families and communities.

On top of COVID-19, the flu season arrives soon and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a real threat already present in the USA. In addition to vaccination, RNAO continues to insist on ventilation, smaller class sizes and universal indoor masking for children over two.

Masks are essential, and the great majority of children mask without any problem. Abandoning this vital public health measure contravenes science and common sense. It amounts to an ideological decision that can kill many lives. We are greatly concerned about premature decisions to ditch masks in some provinces. That option should not even be considered at this time in Ontario.