LONDON, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is reporting 13 new COVID-19 cases, but no new deaths Thursday; meanwhile the health unit will be offering pop-up vaccination clinics at select regional schools next week and answers questions on shortened vaccination intervals.

The count marks a return to daily counts below 25 after a slight surge in cases on Wednesday.

The region now has a total of 12,487 cases and 223 deaths, with 12,155 cases resolved leaving 109 active. There are now 3,411 cases with a variant of concern.

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is reporting 19 inpatients with COVID-19. Nine of those are in critical care, while out-of-region transfers accounts for fewer than five patients in acute care and critical care.

There are currently five LHSC employees positive with COVID-19.

The only active outbreak in the region is at LHSC's University Hospital in the 8TU Transplant Unit.

Starting Wednesday, anyone who received their first vaccine dose on or before May 9, can begin re-booking an earlier second dose appointment.

That is in addition to all adults 70 and over, all Indigenous residents and those with specific health conditions.

POP-UP VACCINATION CLINICS COMING AT SOME SCHOOLS

The MLHU announced Thursday that they will be offering pop-up vaccination clinics at select schools in Middlesex County and London to better reach families and youth who have not yet received their first shot.

The clinics will begin operating on Monday, June 21. 

Each of the one day clinics will be open between 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and can accomodate up to 350 people. 

"We know that there are still people in the community who have not been able to book a vaccination appointment or who aren't able to get to one of our vaccination clinics, but who still very much want to receive the vaccine. There clinics are for them," said Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers in a statement. 

The clinics have been made possible in part due to the deliver of 17,000 additional doses of the Moderna vaccine, with a similar amount expected next week as well. 

Appointments for the school-based clinics are now available to students and families within those schools and will open up to the general public on Saturday.

Some walk in appointments are expected to be available. 

'SCIENCE DOES CHANGE': EXPLAINING EMERGING DATA ON VACCINES

Recommendations continue to change in regards to when you should get your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and which vaccine that should be.

During Thursday’s media briefing MLHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie was asked if the evolving data played a part in vaccine hesitancy.

“It’s a chronic problem that we have with trying to explain science to the general public because science does change.”

Mackie went on to describe the impact of the Delta variant, and how that has sparked a change in policy.

“Six months ago, we thought one dose was protective. The research trials were showing that from all of the COVID circulating around the world one dose was very protective, so we spread out the second doses." Mackie adds, “Now we have a variant that you really need that second dose, so of course the advice is going to change.”

The argument that is used against public health officials and scientists is often what they previously recommended.

Mackie counters,“This is an example of advice changing when information changes and the picture evolves, and that is exactly what are system should be doing and what our leaders should be doing in response.”

On Thursday, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) also recommended that people who received a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine receive a second dose of an mRNA vaccine.

REGIONAL COVID-19 CASE COUNTS

Here are the most recently available numbers from other local public health authorities:

  • Elgin-Oxford – four new, 27 active, 3,847 total, 3,737 resolved, 83 deaths, 782 variants
  • Grey-Bruce – 12 new, 48 active, 1,409 total, 1,354 resolved, seven deaths, 398 variants
  • Haldimand-Norfolk – two new, 32 active, 2,692 total, 2,607 resolved, 47 deaths
  • Huron-Perth – five new, 20 active, 1,872 total, 1,795 resolved, 57 deaths, 302 variants
  • Sarnia-Lambton – one new, 22 active, 3,553 total, 3,469 resolved, 62 deaths, 621 variants

Across Ontario 370 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, a slight drop from the 384 reported the day before.

On Tuesday, officials marked the lowest daily total since Sept. 17 with 293 infections.

Ontario’s rolling seven-day average now stands at 443, down from 618 at this point last week.

- With files from CTV News Toronto and CTV News London's Marek Sutherland