Ontario health units preparing for COVID vaccinations of kids aged five to 11

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Ontario health units are developing plans to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 once COVID-19 shots are approved for them.

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Toronto Public Health said on Monday it had created a planning group that includes health aides, school boards, community representatives and the province, while top doctors in the Peel area, Middlesex-London, Hamilton and Ottawa also said they were making arrangements. Were.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said plans are now being made so that young children can be vaccinated as soon as possible after Health Canada authorizes a COVID-19 shot for them.

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“This will help keep our children safe and provide greater security in our schools and communities across the city,” he said in a statement, adding that Toronto was home to nearly 200,000 children in the 5 to 11 group.

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The Peel Region’s top doctor said his public-health unit is “ready to deploy a vaccine strategy” for that cohort, pending approval from Health Canada and guidance from the province, and will keep residents informed on a timeline.

The top Middlesex-London doctor said his health unit was working with pediatric care providers to ensure clinics were “appropriately designed to support young children and young families.”

“We are working with families and children to ensure that we have thought through all possible aspects of this,” Chris Mackie said in a statement. “We very much hope and hope that we will be on the field as soon as it is announced.”

Ottawa Public Health said it is working with stakeholders on a variety of scenarios to vaccinate the city’s 77,000 children in that age group.

Those scenarios, which will depend on the timing of vaccine approval, include seeing increased staff and clinic locations as well as access to children and their families.

Hamilton’s medical officer for health said his health unit was hoping to announce plans to vaccinate young children as soon as possible.

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“We recognize the anticipation and interest community members are feeling as they await a possible announcement regarding COVID-19 vaccine approval for this age group, and the peace of mind and thorough vaccination that means Will be for these youth and their loved ones. Elizabeth Richardson said in a statement.

Children born after 2009 are not currently eligible to receive any COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada. Pfizer-BioNtech has said it wants to seek authorization soon for a vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11.

In Toronto, the city’s top doctor said on Monday that public health aims to be ready for his vaccinations by early November.

Eileen de Villa noted that the COVID-19 infection rate among children aged 4 to 11 has been increasing over the past three weeks. Last week, the city had the highest rate of infection in that cohort for the first time since the start of the pandemic, she said, with 64 cases per 100,000 population.

This trend is not surprising, as babies born after 2009 may not be vaccinated against COVID-19, Dr de Villa said. But she urged families to get vaccinated to protect those who can’t get the shots.

“It is absolutely vital for parents to get vaccinated to help ensure the school reopens safely and has the ability to provide ongoing in-person learning,” she said.

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He also said there is “work that has yet to be done” in vaccinating people aged 30 to 49, many of whom may be parents. He said that 25 per cent of the people in that age group in the city are not fully vaccinated.

Ontario health units are responsible for administering COVID-19 shots with the guidance of the provincial government.

Provincial data as of Monday showed that 80 percent of youth aged 12 to 17 years had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 70 percent had been fully vaccinated.

Vaccination clinics have been run in or near Ontario schools in the weeks since students returned to classrooms in an effort to promote vaccinations for eligible students, staff and families.

School staff in Ontario must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested regularly for the virus.

There is no such rule for students, but Dr. de Villa wrote to the city’s health board this month, requesting the province to require COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible students. The board voted in favor of his recommendation on Monday.

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In his September 13 letter to the health board, Dr. de Villa mentioned nine other diseases covered under the School Pupils Vaccination Act against which students enrolled in school must be vaccinated.

COVID-19 is not currently one of those designated diseases, and Dr. de Villa wrote that the safety and effectiveness of approved vaccines have been proven in children 12 years of age and older.

“Given the current epidemiology of COVID-19 and the need to support the safe reopening of schools, this” [is] Recommended that the province require COVID-19 vaccination for students who are eligible based on their age/year of birth,” she wrote.

The province’s top public-health doctor has said the province is considering adding COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of those required for students by law, which allows for some exemptions.

– With files by Naushin Jiafati.

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