Time nearly up to get kids fully vaccinated before start of school

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / dolgachov

Parents hoping to have their school aged kids fully vaccinated before the start of the new school year are running out of time.

The Middlesex London Health Unit is reminding parents that children need to have their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Saturday in order to be eligible for their second shot and be fully immunized by Labour Day.

“At this point in time, vaccination is not mandatory to attend school in the Middlesex-London region but it is so important in order for us to make sure our schools are as safe as possible that everyone who is eligible to receive that vaccine 12 and older is vaccinated fully before going back to school,” said Dr. Alex Summers, the health unit’s associate medical officer of health.

There is a 28 day waiting period between shots and then it takes another two weeks after receiving the second dose before full protection is achieved.

Since last Saturday, 73.3 percent of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 in the London region had already had at least one dose of the vaccine and 26.7 percent had received both doses. The percentage of that age group to be fully vaccinated actually doubled over the course of one week, shooting up from 12.5 per cent since July 16, the health unit noted.

“The uptake among those 12 to 17 has been tremendous,” said Summers. “We see an eagerness for people to get vaccinated and we are delighted by that. It is important because 12 to 17 year-olds will be back to in-person activities, that is where they flourish, that is where they want to be, and we want to be able to support them to do so in a way where COVID isn’t transmitted.”

Summer went on to state that vaccination is the “key ingredient” to maximizing the school year this coming fall.

“If there is an outbreak or a case in the school, being vaccinated means that you aren’t going to be sent home from school, you’re not going to be quarantined,” said Summers. “If you are not vaccinated you will have to be sent home from school, similar to what happened over the course of this last year. So there are real benefits to getting vaccinated for those who are 12 to 17.”

What public health safety measures will be in place at schools for the return to in-person learning this fall have not yet been released by the province. They are expected in the coming week. However, Summers said they are likely to include daily symptom screening, staying home when symptomatic, and wearing face coverings in the classroom.

The health unit opened up all four of its mass vaccination clinics to walk-in first and second dose appointments earlier this week. The hours for the walk-in appointments are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are also many walk-in, pop-up sites scheduled throughout the remainder of July and August. The list of pop-up clinics can be found by clicking here.

Vaccination appointments are still encouraged and can be booked online at covidvaccinelm.ca or by calling 226-289-3560 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.