More than 67 per cent of adults over 18 years of age in the region have now had their first vaccination dose against COVID-19, according to Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health during a media conference on Thursday, Jun. 3, 2021.
“I have to thank our pharmacists, our primary care providers, our hospital partners, and certainly those at Public Health, and all the volunteers that have helped keep our clinics going. We have now achieved 67.2 per cent of adults over 18 years of age who have had their first doses, that is a tremendous, high rate. We want to keep that momentum going throughout the summer and build to the high 80s or early [phase of] 90 per cent of our population immunized. That would be terrific,” Moore said.
“We’re now starting second doses earlier than we anticipated given the supply chain has improved, which again is a very good news story for our community,” he said, noting that the public should stay tuned to media announcements to learn when they can make a second dose appointment.
The status of COVID today
There are 16 active cases of COVID-19 currently in KFL&A said Dr. Moore, adding that “We had four new cases today. One of them has been identified as a variant of concern, but I’m sure we’ll get more information over the next several days.”
“Our percentage of tests that are positive, though, is still very low,” around 4.2 individuals per 100,000, he explained, “Which is great, thank you for coming forward and getting tested.”
On being appointed Ontario’s next Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Moore will be taking over as Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health on Sunday, Jun 27, 2021. “I have a three week transition period with Dr. Williams, I’m very much looking forward to partnering with him, learning from him,” he expressed. “I’m honored to have the role going forward. And I do think it is in no small part because of the success of our community, and have to thank everyone.”
Moore went on to say, “I took a long time to decide about taking this role. I love living and working in KFL&A with a great agency here and great community partners. And it would have been easy for me to stay and continue my career here, but they asked me to do this job and I have a deep sense of commitment to our community at large in Ontario, and want to continue the great work that Dr. Williams has done for all of Ontario.”
When asked about his proudest moments in his role with KFL&A, Moore said ,“It’s very, very rare for a Public Health physician to work through a pandemic. So I’m very, very proud of our community and how we’ve responded to the pandemic over the last year and a half. This has been the highlight of my career.”
He added, “We still have a long way to go on the recovery phase while continuing to respond to the virus, then building a recovery phase in and reimagining how Public Health can improve in providing better service, and protection to our communities going forward. So that’s the part of the conversation I’m very much interested in, continuing to respond, but also building the recovery and reshaping the future of Public Health.”
Moore also discussed other successes in the community while he has been in the role of Chief Medical Officer, first with regard to a now-well-known tick-borne illness. “I think we’ve made good strides, and we now can educate others across Ontario and Canada on the prevention of Lyme disease, as well as early detection and treatment. That has been a thrust of mine. We created, in partnership with others, the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network, which has received $4 million in funding from the Canadian Institute of Health Research,” he said.
“That work will continue,” Moore asserted, “I will support that remotely through the Chief Medical Officer of Health office and maintain the strong robust research component of that network. And hopefully increase the awareness of Lyme disease across Ontario, as well as it’s appropriate treatment and early detection. As things calm down [with the pandemic] that will be a key pillar of my work.”
Moore then turned his attention to another issue in the area and how its been addressed.
“We’ve worked diligently on trying to confront and face the opioid epidemic in KFL&A and in Ontario, and we’ve been able to influence policy decisions at a provincial level, such as consumption and treatment sites, distribution of Naloxone, and harm reduction strategies in general to respond to the opioid crisis. And I will continue to keep that as a key area of focus of my office going forward,” he said.
But, having led KFL&A through the COVID-19 pandemic thus far — an experience most Public Health physicians don’t have, as he noted earlier — Moore then reflected on his personal highs and low points during the pandemic.
“The high end has actually been a long-term high. I’m very proud of our long term care partners. And our retirement partners — the workers, those that live in those environments, their patients, their clients, and their essential caregivers. I am very proud of the work that they’ve done. That is the high for me,” he said.
“If you look at the death rate across Ontario, we’ve had a remarkably low death rate. And it’s from their dedication to…” Dr. Moore continued before he paused, visibly overwhelmed with emotion.
“It’s from their dedication to those individuals, that we’ve had a low death rate and now one of the highest immunization rates for their patients and their workers,” he concluded. “That’s a high for me.”