Consultations available for parents still unsure about vaccinating kids

CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Nicole Dupuis on September 27, 2021. (screen shot from media Q and A)

Although the province hasn’t set a date that kids aged five to 11 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, officials at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit hope parents who are hesitant to get their children the shot will take advantage of a new service.

Nurses at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto are offering free, confidential consultations about vaccination. The service is over the phone, and parents can make an appointment to get the latest, most reliable information about vaccines from health officials.

The service started on October 4, but Nicole Dupuis, the CEO at the local health unit, said with the date anticipated soon, she wanted to promote the service to parents who may still have reservations.

“We have seen some reservations and hesitancy among the 12 to 17 age group, so we certainly anticipate that moving to a younger age group that we’ll see similar reservations,” said Dupuis. “We’re just looking at our current experience and want to make sure that parents have all the information they need, and we’re here to support them before we get to that stage that their children are eligible.”

Appointments are available by calling 1-437-881-3505 or by booking online.

As of Wednesday, just over 80 per cent of the local population over the age of 12 has had both shots, but the rate is lower for those in younger age groups. Dupuis noted it is just 67 per cent for those 12 to 24.

While vaccination rates climb across Windsor-Essex, the number of daily COVID-19 cases continues to drop.

The region reported 22 on Wednesday. Those include 13 people who got it from close contact with another confirmed case, four infected in the community, and one as part of an outbreak. Four are under investigation. There are 211 active cases, of which 18 are in the hospital.

However, interim Medical Officer of Health Doctor Shanker Nesathurai believes the region has a long way to go before the virus is under control.

“We still have lots of young people being dismissed from school related to COVID-19, and we still have a large that have not yet been vaccinated,” he said. “I think there is still many months more of work to be done to bring COVID-19 under control.”

He believes work to keep the virus in check will continue well into 2022.

Meanwhile, plans to ensure an orderly rollout of the vaccine for those five to 11 are still in the works. The health unit is waiting for approval from the province for its plan, and consultations are ongoing with area hospitals.

“We do still have the Devonshire mass vaccination site. We’ll be able to ramp up, and I think certainly between that site, our pharmacists, and our primary care physicians, we should be in a great position when that time comes,” she explained.

The health unit kicks off a new event this weekend for members of the Caribbean Temporary Foreign Worker community to boost vaccination rates.

Dupuis was unsure of the vaccination rate for that community. She said the health unit does not have a firm grasp on how many people are in that population, so more work is needed.