Great hopes in vaccinating the little ones

Montreal Public Health is preparing a vaccination scenario for children under 12 for this fall. Health authorities have high hopes for immunizing elementary school children to slow the fourth wave of COVID-19, which is hitting schools and daycare services hard.

Depending on what The duty has learned, representatives of the Regional Directorate of Public Health (DRSP) of Montreal informed on Tuesday the actors of the school network of the metropolis that they were planning the vaccination of elementary school students. We are talking about the start of the campaign in November. No immunization has yet been approved for children under 12, but the scenario of a vaccine released in the fall is considered credible enough for Public Health to prepare for it.

The Montreal DRSP declined to comment on this hypothesis. In the education network, however, we are delighted that the milestones for the vaccination of elementary school students are already underway, even while waiting for the green light from Health Canada. “We can only be happy that an operation of this magnitude is planned in advance,” said a source who is not authorized to speak publicly.

“Community transmission is important in Montreal with the Delta variant. I believe that we will have this level of transmission until we can vaccinate children under 11 years old ”, indicated Wednesday the director of public health of Montreal, the Dre Mylène Drouin, during a press conference.

More than 80% of infections in the metropolis are due to the variant, which is more contagious than the original virus. The number of outbreaks on the island jumped nearly 60% in seven days, from 86 to 136. Although the majority of outbreaks still occur in workplaces (210), transmission has occurred. accelerated in daycare and school services, which now account for nearly 40% of COVID-19 cases in the metropolis, against 25% last week.

However, vaccination rates are considered encouraging. Nearly 84% of the Montreal population aged 12 and over have received two doses of the vaccine. The Dre Drouin estimates that at least 90% of eligible people will need to be vaccinated for the presence of the virus to become tolerable.

“When we can vaccinate the youngest, it will be rather easy to achieve this goal,” explained the director of public health. She said the metropolis had 200,000 children aged 11 and under.

Signals from the United States seem favorable for the arrival of a vaccine for children in the fall. The Dr Anthony Fauci, head of US public health, told CNN on Tuesday that emergency clearance for Pfizer’s vaccine would be possible this fall “if the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] felt they had sufficient data ”from clinical trials. The green light for Moderna’s vaccine for children could follow “a little later”.

Encouraging sign, children, even unvaccinated, are unlikely to be sick if they contract COVID-19, recognizes Mylène Drouin. For those opposed to childhood immunizations, this is enough to prevent young people from even the smallest risks associated with vaccines. Despite the absence of symptoms, children can still spread the virus if they are infected, nuance Dre Drouin.

A “fragile” network

Transmission of the virus puts the health network and vulnerable people at risk, argued Sonia Bélanger, President and CEO of the CIUSSS du Center-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. The system is “fragile”, according to her. The hospitals of the metropolis do not record any break in service for the moment, but there is a shortage of 2,000 nurses on the island.

Hospitalizations are accelerating in Montreal, she detailed in a press briefing; 70 people need care, and 43 are in intensive care due to COVID-19. Also according to her, about 87% of these patients did not receive their two doses of vaccine.

the Legault government has given employees of the health network until October 15 to get their two doses of vaccine. After this date, unvaccinated network workers will be suspended without pay; 8% of the approximately 100,000 network employees in Montreal still refuse vaccination.

Officials are trying to reach “individually” refractory employees, insisted the director of public health in Montreal. “We want to do everything to not end up with service disruptions. “

Quebec is trying to anticipate the blow and will announce “in the next few days” new incentives to recruit more nurses. Wednesday morning the prime minister Francois Legault said he was “ready to offer the same working conditions” as in the private sector. It also opened the door to the return of retired nurses by allowing them to continue to receive their pension in addition to their salary.

The unions in the health network argue that time is running out: Quebec “must now resign itself to taking action for a better work-family balance, to put an end to compulsory overtime, to counter work overload and to act on the instability of workstations and schedules, ”claimed Claire Montour, president of the Fédération de la santé du Québec.

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