WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor-Essex medical officer of health says more messaging is needed to engage younger people as COVID-19 vaccination rates for certain age groups have started to plateau.

Windsor Essex County Health Unit wants to take action with talks of a possible new vaccine awareness campaign targeting younger people who have yet to receive a COVID-19 shot.

“The younger population between 20-40, that’s the group that has a slightly lower coverage rate then the other age band,” says Dr. Wajid Ahmed.

While the vaccination numbers continue to climb in Windsor-Essex and it is at a high percentage of first doses, the increases for 20-40 year olds are beginning to plateau. The region is also seeing a slowing uptake in younger age groups.

“We are working on our 12 to 17-year-old vaccination rates. They are not as high as we would like those to be. Hopefully you’ll see an increase of first doses because people are booked until July 2,” says WECHU CEO, Theresa Marentette.

Originally aiming for 70 per cent, the health unit is now upping their ambitions, hoping with an extra push to see the vaccination rate continue to increase. 

“I have a short term and a long term objective. Short term is to get us to 80 per cent and long-term would be anywhere more than 90 per cent, would be the coverage rate I am looking for,” says Ahmed.

As of Wednesday, 61.7 per cent of Windsor-Essex residents have received at least one dose, while 27.8 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Windsor Vax Finders is also hoping to encourage and assist in getting shots in arms.

“Every single person in Windsor Essex, who’s over the age of 12 can book a first dose appointment today, and really that’s a privilege that not many regions or other countries have,” says Windsor Vax Finders founder, Noah Gascon.

John Elliott with Sandwich Teen Action Group agrees.

“As the executive director of the teens, I make a point to give them the information, the facts and in this case talking about the vaccines,” he says. “And let them know I took it, here’s why I took it, and advise them to truly consider it because here’s what is going on with the virus.”

Helping to get that information out is now as critical as getting vaccine supply in.

“I think that’s something we should message forward to people because the sooner we get the first doses into arms as well as the second doses, the sooner we are going to put the pandemic behind us,” says Gascon.