Small but mighty: Vaccinating Canadian kids could see rates jump nearly 7%

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Children across Canada have started receiving their first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, and experts say it could be a big help in Canada’s fight against the pandemic.

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“The difference is going to be huge. The impact is going to be huge,” said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto.

Health Canada approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11 on November 19, and the first pediatric dose arrived in Canada a few days later. Some provinces have already started giving shots.

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According to demographic data from Statistics Canada, children in this age group make up about eight percent of Canada’s population, although this varies from province to province.

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Currently, about 78 percent of all Canadians have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Considering that young children are vaccinated at the same rate as their peers aged 12-17 – the 87 percent who have had at least one dose – immunization for this age group brings Canada’s overall vaccine rate of about 85 percent. percent will come up.

“It’s a huge dent in the total number of people who don’t have protection,” said Carolyn Collijn, professor of mathematics and Canada 150 Research Chair at Simon Fraser University, who works with the BC COVID-19 Modeling Group.

Collision said predicting what additional few percentage points of vaccine coverage will impact is complicated. He said epidemiologists need to take into account current caseloads, understand how children interact and how they transmit disease to others, which has changed significantly during the pandemic.

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With the data they have, Collijn said, it would reduce the current modest drop in cases in BC. In other provinces, she thinks that vaccinating children will reduce the number of cases or at least reduce their levels.

“Based on the modeling we have, this would likely lead to a drop in transmission,” she said.

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According to Colijn, vaccinating children not only protects them from potentially serious illness resulting from COVID-19, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) and other complications in children. It also helps prevent them from transmitting the disease to others.

“We will see a substantial indirect effect that has benefits for older adults, for hospitalization, for ICU, because it is all ultimately driven by cases now,” she said.

“And if we reduce those infections, those are older individuals who may have never been exposed, who may be in some of the transmission chain that we prevent by vaccinating children.”

Many infections in children are asymptomatic, Furness noted, and are found only by testing the orbits. But, he said, infected children who do not have symptoms can still pass the virus on to their friends and family.

“One infected family can infect an entire neighborhood depending on the mix that happens in the schools,” he said.

This is why Furness believes vaccinating school children could make such a big difference in Canada.

“Primary school children and primary schools are the last big biomes for COVID,” he said.

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Responsible for children under 19 more than a third of new cases Reported during the second week of November, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“The school is very difficult to manage this great nexus or this great gathering, it is very difficult to control and acts as a superhighway for infection transmission,” Furness said.

While he doesn’t expect to see much of an impact from vaccinating children until around February, he believes that if the campaign goes strong now, it’s possible Canada could avoid the rising number of cases that Europe currently has. I am experiencing.

“If you look at what is happening in Europe right now, this is our future,” he said. “If we don’t get vaccinated, this is our future.”

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