Peel Region’s medical officer of health says all residents will likely get infected by the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant at some point this winter.

Dr. Lawrence Loh spoke at Brampton’s COVID-19 press briefing on Wednesday morning and said most people will likely become ill from the coronavirus variant that is rapidly spreading across the province.

“Given how transmissible and widespread this disease is, it's likely that we will all face Omicron infection at some point in the winter. That said, we can get through this together by reducing our own risk of severe outcomes by getting vaccinated and sticking to these precautions,” he said.

Loh reiterated that the best defence against the virus is getting vaccinated and following other health measures, such as masking, physical distancing and reducing contact with others.

“The data is clear, however, that those in our community who remain unvaccinated are six times more likely to end up being hospitalized and 10 times more likely to end up in ICU (intensive care units). So my message today is clear, get vaccinated,” Loh said.

While Loh emphasized vaccination as the key tool in fighting the virus, health officials continue to stress that people should still take all the measures they can to avoid contracting it and thereby spreading it to others in the community who are at risk, including unvaccinated children, those who can’t get vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems.

Yesterday, the Ontario Hospital Association said a record 80 adults were admitted to ICUs, the highest single-day tally observed throughout the pandemic.

More than 3,400 people were hospitalized with the virus on Wednesday, including a total of 505 in ICUs, compared to 288 ICU patients a week ago.

Two years into the pandemic, Loh said the focus now is less about preventing COVID-19 infection but reducing one’s chances of getting severely ill.

“If you are vaccinated, especially with two doses, and three if you're older, then your risk is much more manageable in our current context.”

Loh continues to urge parents to get their children vaccinated as students will be heading back to school for in-person learning on Monday, after pivoting to virtual learning for two weeks.

“We do have unique challenges in Peel because we do have proportionately more five to 11 year olds than other comparably sized health units,” he said.

“Please know that getting your children protected from these rare but severe outcomes during the Omicron surge will also help to provide peace of mind while also reducing the risk of hospitalization,” Loh added.

On Sunday, Brampton is holding a family clinic at the Save Max Sports Centre from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. for both parents and children to receive vaccinations.

Loh also addressed reports that some residents are turning down vaccinations after arriving at clinics for their appointment because they could not receive the vaccine of their choice.

He pleaded with residents to take whichever vaccine is on hand as both Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are similar and effective at offering protection against the virus.

Officials in Toronto have previously said that about two to three per cent of people with appointments at city-run clinics are walking out after not being able to receive their preferred brand of vaccine.

“Walking out of an appointment for a booster leaves you at risk and wastes that appointment for someone else who could have otherwise accessed protection. So please, whether the brand starts with a ‘P’ or an ‘M’ make sure that you're getting vaccinated with the mRNA vaccine before you.”