School Childhood Vaccination Clinics Start Rolling Out in Toronto, But Not All Parents On Board

For the past four months, Soji Adesokun’s children have been anxiously asking when they too would get vaccinated against COVID-19.

That wait came to an end Thursday when Ruth, 10, and Philip, 6, were among the first children in Toronto to be hit at a school clinic.

“They know what COVID is, they know it’s dangerous, and they know the vaccine is supposed to help,” Adesokun said, as she picked up her children after school in St. Francis de Sales, near Jane and Finch, a neighborhood that it has been a hot spot for COVID-19 infection rates.

That school was one of three that launched vaccination clinics for children ages 5 to 11. More will be operational in the coming weeks, with a total of 230 school clinics serving 390 schools in 34 priority neighborhoods.

A “hub and spoke model” is being used, Coun explained. Joe Cressy, president of the Toronto Board of Health. The mobile clinics will move between schools in a neighborhood and students can go to a different school to receive the vaccine.

“In some cases, we are doing a clinic at one school and then two weeks later we have a second clinic at a school two blocks away,” said Cressy, District 10, Spadina-Fort York. “Children who have missed it the first time will have a chance the second time on the street.”

These clinics are for specific school students only and are not open to the general public, so their locations are not posted. Parents will receive a notice directly from their child’s school when a clinic is hosted. All four boards, public and Catholic, in English and French, are participating and the clinics are run by various health partners.

Initially, the school clinics will be in priority neighborhoods, which have about 55,000 children between the ages of five and 11. The plan is to roll them out across the city, which in total has 200,000 children in that age group.

The school clinics are part of a massive vaccination effort targeting children, which has taken off since Health Canada approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11 on November 19. Those sites are in addition to other options. They include five city-run immunization clinics and fixed clinics run by hospitals, Ontario health teams, and community health centers, as well as more than 110 primary care providers and pediatricians. There are also 240 pharmacies with pediatric dosages, but that will increase to 450 pharmacies.

On the outskirts of St. Francis de Sales, Adesokun said his children were interested in getting the vaccine after learning about it on Sesame Street and in family discussions, noting that his wife works in a hospital.

Soji Adesokun's children, Philip, 6, and Ruth, 10, were vaccinated against COVID-19 at their school, St. Francis de Sales, on Thursday. "It was easy," Ruth said.

Ruth and Philip were among a handful of students in their classes whose parents had given permission that first day to receive the vaccine during school hours.

“It was easy,” Ruth said. “They just put the needle in and put on a band-aid. It does not hurt “.

Nearby, as a dozen parents waited for their children, a Star reporter asked if they intend to vaccinate their children. Most said no, some are thinking about it. Many were surprised to learn that the school had a clinic, and one woman explained that she had not yet read the information sent home by the school.

On Wednesday, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical health officer, told reporters that “more than three million children have been vaccinated in the United States so far, and … there have been no major signs of worry”.

Vaccinating children, he said, is key to protecting them from infections and the risk of rare complications, such as multi-system inflammatory syndrome, hospitalization or a post-COVID condition. In addition, it helps prevent the transmission of COVID, particularly to those who are at risk of developing a serious illness.

Adesokun understands the reluctance of some parents, but believes that the only way out of this pandemic is through vaccination.

“If I thought it was a risk to my children, I would not do it,” he said. “I understand that (getting vaccinated) is a different decision when it comes to your children. But at this point, almost everyone should know someone who has had (COVID) … or someone who has died (from it). “

That is certainly the case with Saint Francis de Sales. The school community was shocked and heartbroken last November when Ingrid Salt, a child and youth worker at the school, died of COVID after contracting it in the community.

Cressy knows that convincing some will be a challenge. That is why easily accessible school clinics are important and widely supported. A recent Toronto Public Health survey of 43,000 parents showed that 66 percent of those surveyed were safe or somewhat likely to vaccinate their children and that the preferred setting was their children’s doctor’s office or school.

Community outreach is also key, Cressy said, adding that the city is working with 155 community agencies and 410 vaccine ambassadors, who are trusted local leaders, to promote vaccination. Webinars and public meetings have also been held for parents to ask questions.

In choosing the 34 neighborhoods for the first phase of the school clinics, TPH focused on equity and where the need was greatest. As part of its data analysis, TPH analyzed COVID-19 case rates during the fourth wave, vaccination rates from 12 to 17 (to measure vaccine absorption in younger children), the proportion of racialized individuals and the percentage of low-income residents and those living in overcrowded housing.

“I know of no other jurisdiction in North America that implemented a school-based clinical model of vaccine equity on day one,” Cressy said. “Often times, we see people looking to adjust the model of the clinic, where the emerging clinics go, where the outreach takes place, after the disparities have been demonstrated. … That fairness analysis is what I think will allow us to start working to make sure we are protecting the most vulnerable as quickly as possible. “

Leave a Comment