Community clinics ready to receive kids for COVID-19 vaccine

(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / casanowe)

Health officials are waiting for the green light so children aged five to 11 can get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health Canada is expected to give approval for use of the Pfizer vaccine in young children on Friday.

Once approval is received, Lambton’s medical officer of health said there won’t be a priority rollout for this group since it’s a smaller overall demographic in the region.

“Children who are in this age group are at very low risk of getting severe disease and so the marginal difference in risk between a child who has some kind of chronic condition versus a child who doesn’t, may not be that substantial in this context,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade.

Based on results from a recent survey, community clinics were a favourable option in terms of distribution but other methods are also being considered.

“School clinics are possible and we are going to run a few of those but the challenge there is you can sometimes do a lot of school clinics and not necessarily get a lot of kids coming to them,” said Ranade. “Our primary thing is going to be getting people to the community clinics and also where we can, where health care providers are set up and willing and able to deliver vaccines, that those health care providers would be able to do it.”

Pharmacies may be also be an option but Ranade said details have yet to be confirmed.

Ranade also said during a teleconference, there are concerns of protests once children are approved to receive the vaccine, however, security needs are being considered as part of the health unit’s distribution plan.

Just over 81 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Ranade said there are questions as to whether or not 80 per cent or 85 per cent is enough to protect the healthcare system.

“I think at this place in the vaccine rollout, we have definitely achieved a primary goal which is to reduce overall mortality and we have achieved that by immunizing the highest risk group for mortality,” he said. “The second thing we’ve done is reduce the overall burden of severe disease and we have then done that by immunizing the group that are at highest risk for that.”

Ranade said there are also questions as to whether or not 60 per cent of children vaccinated against the virus, as stated in the survey, is enough to reduce transmission in settings such as the classroom.

The survey also suggested that 72 per cent of respondents would support additional lockdowns if hospitals become overwhelmed. Ranade said the health unit will continue to monitor larger centres like Ottawa and the Greater Toronto Area during the winter months before making any decisions locally to possibly reimplement restrictions.

“We kind of seem to be following everyone else in terms of COVID, which is great in a way, it lets us see what’s happening in these other places,” said Ranade. “Before we got to the point where we had to do that, Toronto or Ottawa would already be at that point and so then there would be larger provincial discussions about whether or not more restrictions need to be put in place.”