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Sudbury and Districts ready to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to children 5–11 as early as Friday

'Vaccination is in our children’s best interests...As of this morning, we have 15 active outbreaks related to schools, school buses and daycare'
2021 11 23 PHSD Public Health Sudbury and Districts Building ( File Photo) (2)
Public Health Sudbury & Districts offices in Greater Sudbury

Public Health Sudbury & Districts is ready — as soon as provincial guidance is released and vaccine supply arrives — to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to children aged five to 11, perhaps as early as Friday, November 26.

Greater Sudbury has experienced a surge in COVID-19 activity in recent weeks. According to PHSD, as of Monday there are 21 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and seven of those are in the ICU. There are 21 active outbreaks in the area, including 15 related to schools, school buses and child care settings. PHSD reported 88 new cases over the weekend, there are now 258 active cases.  

See related: Four schools in Sudbury closed due to COVID-19 cases

Medical Officer of Health for PHSD, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe states, “Vaccination is in our children’s best interests. During [the fourth wave], and especially in recent weeks, the 5–11 age group has had a higher incidence of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

"Thankfully, children’s rates of hospitalization have remained low but with the Delta variant so easily transmissible in schools and families, I want us to do all we can to prevent infections and the complications of COVID infections such as myocarditis, long COVID and of course the collateral harms of school disruption and social isolation." 

The Medical Officer of Health for the neighbouring North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, Dr. Jim Chirico, strongly recommended that a risk assessment be part of someone’s decision-making regarding travel out-of-district.

And, the Health Unit and four co-terminus school boards in North Bay–Parry Sound have halted school sporting events and field trips involving North Bay, Sudbury and Algoma districts due to the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases. Multiple secondary school regional and provincial sports championships have had to be moved, reconfigured or played without the rightful qualifiers due to the North Bay–Sudbury–Algoma school-related travel ban.

See: Dr. Chirico 'not ruling out' more restrictions as COVID-19 cases surge in nearby districts

And: Neighbouring health unit has 'highest case rates in the province by far'

In Ontario, children aged five to 11 will be eligible to book their appointment to receive the COVID vaccine beginning Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health. Approximately one million children in the age group are eligible to receive the vaccine.

See also: Province says you can book kid's vaccine appointment beginning tomorrow

Meanwhile, closer to home,  the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says, "We will start to administer the vaccine by next weekend at special clinics for kids. We expect our initial pediatric clinics to go live on the provincial booking portal Tuesday. The booking portal is already open for bookings in non-specialized clinics."

Following the approval last Friday by Health Canada and the same-day release of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendations, the pediatric formulation of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty will soon be available at existing local Public Health clinics, participating pharmacies, primary care offices, and targeted in-school and after-school clinics.

"This is such welcome news for everyone, and especially our area where we are seeing children 5–11, their schools and their families heavily impacted by the current COVID-19 surge,” observes Sutcliffe. “Being able to offer our young people vaccine means that they too can soon benefit from this additional layer of protection."

Special considerations are being given to host school-based clinics for children aged 5–11 attending special needs schools, select schools that service at-risk populations, and where schools may have reduced access or transportation concerns.

"There is limited evidence to date on the risk factors that make COVID infections more severe in children," adds Sutcliffe. "However, there is strong evidence for more severe disease in adult populations if there are other underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, kidney disease and neurological disorders and for individuals with Down Syndrome. Let’s do all we can to protect all our kids."

"The approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 is exciting news for families and represents a bright light at the end of the tunnel," said Christine Elliott, Minister of Health. "Offering the protection of the vaccine to children aged five to 11 is a significant milestone in Ontario’s fight against COVID-19 in advance of the holiday season."