Public health switching focus to vaccinate younger children

·3 min read

Chatham-Kent Public Health is switching focus to vaccinating young children.

But according to Dr. David Colby, Medical officer of Health in Chatham-Kent, the process depends entirely on the vaccine supply.

Colby said he hopes to start vaccinating local children before December at the Bradley Centre and multiple other venues. He noted schools might not be the best place to vaccinate students.

The region’s top doctor said he expects the demand for the vaccine will be high at the beginning but will slow down because young children 5-11 are not a large group in Chatham-Kent.

“We’re hoping that the vaccination of the five to 11-year-olds will account for the protection of a significant segment of the population, which can not only get very sick but serve as a source of infection for others,” said Colby.

According to the Statistics Canada Census, which was last updated in April 2017, the municipality of Chatham-Kent has 5,645 children aged five to nine. There are an additional 5,760 children aged 10-14. The total population of Chatham-kent is 104,771.

Pfizer’s pediatric formula of the vaccine is approximately one-third of the size of the adult version. Similar to the adult shot, the pediatric formulation will also require two doses.

The vaccine will be given in two doses of 10 micrograms, three weeks apart. Adult doses contain 30 micrograms.

Full vaccination requires two doses given three weeks apart. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending an interval of eight weeks between doses.

One week after the second dose, clinical trials showed the vaccine was 90.7 percent effective for children in that age group. By comparison, the MMR vaccine is 88 percent effective against mumps, 97 percent against measles, and 97 percent against rubella.

Out of the 3,100 children vaccinated, four serious adverse events were reported, but they were later determined not to be related to the vaccine. There were no reports of myocarditis, pericarditis or serious allergic reactions.

Public health officials said having a child fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can help restore a more normal life, including school and activities because fully vaccinated individuals without symptoms will not be required to isolate when exposed to a positive case of the virus.

Canada is expecting an accelerated delivery of 2.9 million doses, enough for every child in the 5-11 age group to get their first dose.

The public health unit is currently not booking appointments for children ages five to 11 as they wait for further guidance from the province and details around vaccine distribution.

“Please be patient as we work to make this happen,” public health officials said. “Please know that we are ready and look forward to opening our doors as soon as we can.”

In the meantime, parents and legal guardians are encouraged to visit https://ckphu.com/covid-19-vaccines-child-and-youth/. The public health unit webpage offers parent and kid-friendly resources, as well as factsheets and Q&As.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News

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