In an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Medicine Hat, the city along with Alberta Health Services is starting a vaccination campaign.

Cases in the city have exploded, with 495 currently active. Officials say the wave is led by people between the ages of 20 and 40.

“The majority of cases within this age group are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated,” said Merrick Brown, director of emergency services for the city of Medicine Hat. “The third factor is the Delta variant is prevalent in our community.”

In that age group, the city has less than 47 per cent fully immunized compared to 60 per cent provincewide.

Dr. Vivien Suttorp says that is helping fuel Medicine Hat’s spike in cases.

“Medicine Hat has, in fact, more hospitalizations today in the hospital than we saw at any time in the last 18 months, including in the intensive care unit,” Suttorp said.

“The patients are younger and the majority are not immunized.”

To fight the spread, the city announced an online communication campaign, imploring residents in the 20 to 40 age range to get the shot.

“It’s going on longer than it should and the severity is increasing, so it’s up to us and specifically that age group,” Brown said.

Brown says this is similar to the city’s act now campaign from earlier in the pandemic, which encouraged people to follow public health restrictions.

“Knowing what has been effective and ineffective, we found that that was quite effective. It’s that visual perspective, perhaps dispelling a little bit of naiveté and showing the facts,” Brown said.

Medicine Hat currently has the second-highest active case rate in the province behind only Banff.

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