LONDON, ONT. -- Local vaccination efforts will shift into high gear after four new cases of the COVID-19 delta variant were confirmed by lab results today.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit held an unscheduled news conference shortly after being notified.

“The Delta variant, first identified in India, is more transmissible and appears to lead to more people in hospital,” explained Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Alex Summers.

Dr. Summers warned it will become the dominant strain in Ontario by the end of this month and could ignite a resurgence of cases.

It takes laboratories time to takes time to identify variants, so the four cases are already resolved.

The MLHU’s preliminary review suggests the cases were acquired locally, and the infected were either unvaccinated or had only received a single dose.

Dr. Summers referred to data from the UK that suggests preventing the delta variant requires two doses.

Local vaccination efforts will now shift into high gear.

“The threat to partially vaccinated people is notable,” said Dr. Summers. “There is quite a reduction in vaccine effectiveness against the delta for symptomatic COVID illness.”

As the region enters a race to double-vaccinate against the variant, vaccine availability is soaring.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie says unexpected shipments and over-sized shipments this week have resulted in more opportunities to get shots into arms.

“We have been able already to add 43,000 additional vaccine appointments into our booking system,” Dr. Mackie told the news conference.

“If you don’t have a single dose, go out and get it because it will prevent you from being hospitalized,” added Dr. summers. “The goal for having people double vaccinated is that it works against the delta variant. It works.”

Anyone who received a first dose on or before May 9 can book a second shot now.

On Thursday, the MLHU will determine if that date could move to May 31.