Ontario plans to vaccinate children

(Toronto) Ontario health units are developing plans to vaccinate children ages five to 11 after Health Canada approves COVID-19 vaccines for this age group.

Toronto Public Health has also formed a committee to plan the eventual vaccination of 200,000 children ages five to 11 in the metropolis. The city’s medical director said Monday that public health aims to be ready for the start of vaccination in November.

The regional directorate for public health says that health partners, school boards, community representatives and the provincial health ministry are involved in this broad planning.

Health officials in the Peel, Middlesex-London, Hamilton, Ottawa and York region have also said they are making arrangements. In Ontario, regional public health directorates are responsible for administering vaccines, following the advice of the provincial government.

Children under the age of 12 are currently not eligible for any of the vaccines approved for use in Canada. Toronto Mayor John Tory said the committee is now being formed so that children can get vaccinated quickly when Health Canada approves vaccination for this cohort of children ages five to 11.

“This will help keep our children safe and provide better protection in our schools and in our communities throughout the city,” he said in a statement.

The Peel region medical director said his public health unit was “ready to implement a vaccination strategy” for this cohort, pending approval from Health Canada.

The Middlesex-London region medical director said his health unit was working with pediatric care providers to ensure clinics were “properly designed to support young children and young families.”

“We are working with families and children to make sure we have thought of all potential aspects,” Dr. Chris Mackie said in a statement. “We have high hopes and hope to start as soon as the announcement is made.”

Ottawa Public Health said it was working with stakeholders in different settings to immunize the city’s 77,000 children in this age group.

These scenarios, which will depend on when the vaccine is approved, include more staff, different clinic locations, and awareness campaigns for children and their families.

Children born after 2009 are currently not eligible for any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada. Pfizer has announced plans to seek approval for a vaccine for children ages five to 11.

A spokeswoman for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is working with public health and other partners to obtain vaccines for children in this age group “as soon as they are approved by Health Canada.”

“In the coming weeks, we will ensure that parents and children are well aware of the options available to them to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Ontario government press secretary Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement.

The Coronavirus Situation in Ontario

Ontario reported 613 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, but no new deaths.

The Health Ministry said 74% of these cases involved people who are not vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown. More than a third of new cases involve people between the ages of 20 and 39.

There were 184 people in intensive care due to COVID-19; seven of them are fully vaccinated, 11 are partially vaccinated, 102 are not vaccinated, and the vaccination status of 64 people is unknown.

In addition, 135 new cases were linked to schools, the majority among students.

Approximately 86% of eligible Ontarians received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and approximately 80% received both doses.

With information from Noushin Ziafati

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