Toronto is preparing to vaccinate children aged five to 11 against COVID-19 in its latest push to boost vaccination rates — pending approval from Health Canada.
On Friday, the city announced it will conduct outreach and education sessions with Toronto Public Health (TPH), which will include town halls to "build vaccine confidence" among parents of children aged five to 11 years old.
All parents of children in that age group who attend public schools, will receive an email and invitation to participate in a survey which will help in vaccine distribution planning, the city said in a release Friday.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said it is "essential" to vaccinate this age group in particular.
"When vaccines are approved for use — and when we have supply — we will ensure that we bring every resource to bear on this critical component of the vaccination campaign," de Villa said at a news conference Friday.
"This important step not only protects children from contracting COVID-19 but provides critical protection to members of their family, to those around them at school and to their entire communities."
The online survey aims to understand parents' intent to vaccinate their children, how they would prefer to have their children receive their COVID-19 vaccine, and to obtain critical information on socio-demographic factors such as race and income, the city said.
It will be open until Nov. 7, includes 15 questions available in multiple languages, and will be sent directly to parents and guardians through Toronto school boards.
"We want to hear from parents so we make sure we design a vaccination program that works for kids and their families," Toronto mayor John Tory said.
"This is just one more example of the outreach we are doing to prepare for this effort. This work is so important and will help us get kids vaccinated so they have the best protection against COVID-19 and so our schools can be as safe and as open as possible."
In addition, parent and caregiver town halls as well as targeted multilingual and neighbourhood-based telephone town halls will be announced in the coming weeks, the city release noted.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is also ready to vaccinate children aged five to 11, as soon as it gets the OK from Health Canada.