Ontario Doctors Calling For School Vaccination Programs To Be Resumed After Being Suspended Due To COVID | The Canadian News

Dr. Milene Forte knows that when it comes to vaccinations in Ontario, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many children to be left behind.

“We are really missing opportunities to vaccinate children against HPV-related cancers,” Forte said. “We know that the vaccine is very effective in preventing cervical cancer and is approximately 90% effective when given before age 17.”

For years, Ontario public health units have been offering school vaccinations for HPV, hepatitis B, and meningitis. But at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, those school programs came to a halt. Doctors are concerned about how this will play out in the future, especially in regards to the cancers these vaccines are designed against.

“One of the ways to prevent these cancers is to prevent people from getting the virus that causes the cancers in the first place, so here we went all this way and now we are going back in time,” said Dr. Amanda Selk, obstetrician and President of the Society of Canadian Colposcopists.

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In general, people are encouraged to talk to their family doctors to check their vaccination status. Often times, family doctors can order and administer these injections during regular doctor visits. But outside of that advice, not all public health units are catching up on these vaccines in the same way for children who did not receive these vaccines at school.

In Ottawa, public health has begun visiting schools in person, in addition to offering community clinics. In Simcoe-Muskoka, school programs have not resumed, but are expected to return in the fall of 2022.

In Toronto, public health has not been in the schools, but in massive clinics for these vaccines. However, if the fall campaign was missed, that option is no longer available as the program ended on October 30, 2021. That means a visit to a family doctor is one of the best options.

A recent study suggests that they are unlikely to catch up on missed shots without a coordinated school-based approach. For example, in Canada, figures show that people are 3.7 times more likely to receive the HPV vaccine when it is offered at school.

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Offering vaccines also levels the playing field and makes access more equitable for people regardless of their socioeconomic background. Part of the reason school vaccination programs work, Forte said, “is that children who don’t have access to primary care doctors can still get vaccinated. It removes the barrier of having to access a doctor’s office. “

While vaccinating children against COVID-19 is critical, doctors say they hope public health units can find a way to maximize school visits, if that turns out to be a route they take, and potentially look for ways to deliver. vaccines for both. COVID-19 and others at the same time for those who are eligible.

“When they go to schools, they can get kids vaccinated against HPV, too,” Selk said. “It’s a lot easier when you go to the people who need the vaccine and then you ask people to come to you.”

If you are not sure or want to check your child’s vaccination status, you can do so through Toronto Public Health.

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