Both public health units in the Hamilton and Niagara region say they, like Toronto, are making preparations to vaccinate children ages five to 11 against COVID-19.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH) revealed Monday that the city has formed a COVID-19 vaccination planning group, which recruits health partners, school boards, community representatives and the Ontario Ministry of Health.
Dr. Eileen de Villa went on to ask the city’s health board to contact the province to add COVID-19 to the list of diseases that students enrolled in school should be vaccinated against.
“Given the current epidemiology of COVID-19 and the need to support the safe reopening of schools, it is recommended that the province require COVID-19 vaccination for students who are eligible based on their age / year of birth.” wrote de Villa.
COVID-19: City of Toronto Says It Is Preparing to Vaccinate Children Ages 5-11
At a health board meeting Monday, De Villa linked its appeal to rising rates of cases involving children ages four to 11, which moved to 64 per 100,000 over the weekend, compared to the 57 per 100,000 from last week.
The Hamilton Health Ministry says the city is also working on a plan for the possible launch of COVID-19 vaccines from five to eleven.
However, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said the speed of the health unit initiative will depend on the direction of the Ontario National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and Public Health.
“In accordance with the Hamilton vaccine launch to date, including the principles of health equity as a basis, a local plan will be announced and COVID-19 vaccines will be administered to this age group as soon as possible, following the instructions from the province, “Richardson told Global News in an email.
Based on data from the 2016 Canadian Census, approximately 50,000 children between the ages of five and 11 will likely be the next group eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Hamilton.
More than a third of the city’s active COVID-19 cases (38.14 percent) as of September 26 are among those under 19 years of age. More than 21% are less than 10 years old.
Niagara’s acting medical health officer says around 32,500 children are likely to be eligible for a vaccine in the region when approval is given.
Dr. Mustafa Hirji says that the health unit has “mapped out” a series of scenarios related to acceptance in clinics, pharmacies and primary care partners.
“We have also been looking geographically where these students live. So where are we going to make the most sense to run some of our clinics? Hirji said.
He said they are also brainstorming messaging campaigns to notify parents when and how they can vaccinate their children.
The Health Ministry says the main concern will be acquiring the new variation of the vaccine scheduled for manufacture, which is estimated to be one-third the size of the dose used in current injections.
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“I think the big problem here could be the availability of vaccines,” Hirji said.
“So the Pfizer vaccine will actually be a special pediatric reformulation of the vaccine. It will not be the same vaccine that we currently have in freezers. “
He says the launch is likely to be similar to what was seen with the initial doses of Pfizer given to the elderly from December to February, when certain vulnerable groups were selected for the initial doses.
“I hope production increases much faster, so there are no such limitations,” Hirji said.
“But I think that’s a possible concern that we may have and that it could end up being the limiting factor in how quickly we can vaccinate that population.”
Just over 26 percent of active COVID-19 cases in the Niagara region are among those under 20, as of Sunday.
Vaccines increase 24% in Hamilton since the start of Ontario’s certification program
In the days after Ontario implemented its vaccine certificate program, Hamilton’s average daily vaccinations jumped well above the September average from an estimated 1,500 per day to 1,900 between Wednesday and Sunday.
It’s a 24 percent increase over the same period September 15-19, with the highest absorption on Thursday, September 22, when more than 2,200 doses were administered.
The rate of two doses of Hamilton among eligible people 12 and older is now at 76.7 percent at the end of the weekend, and the first doses now at 82.9 percent. About 822,000 doses have been administered in total in the city.
The city is still behind the provincial average that registered 80.62 percent in two doses and 86.19 percent, as of Sunday.
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The Niagara region did not experience a large increase in doses after the initiation of the Ford government’s proof-of-vaccination policy.
Week after week in the last two periods between Wednesday and Thursday, the region only gave about 150 injections in total.
More than 700,000 doses have been administered in the Niagara region since its COVID vaccination program was launched in late 2020.
Just over 70 percent of residents have completed a series of injections in Niagara, while 75.3 percent have received at least one dose as of Sept. 26.
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