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Region prepares for approval of vaccines for school-age kids

With the imminent approval of vaccines for children between the ages of 5 and 11, Waterloo Region is ramping up for special clinics to handle the demand.

The region is planning a child-specific ‘Every Dose Counts’ vaccination clinic when children’s vaccines are approved, similar to the one hosted at Bingemans in the summer. They are also working with the school board to get more information out to parents before the children’s vaccine rollout officially starts.

“When the vaccine is approved for children 5 to 11, a comprehensive vaccine rollout will ensure that families who wish to vaccinate their children will be able to do so,” said regional Chair Karen Redman at the weekly pandemic briefing November 12.

In the U.S., more than a million kids in that age range have received a shot since the vaccine was cleared for a younger cohort more than a week ago. Health Canada is expected to announce a similar clearance here within a couple of weeks.

“When 5-to-11-year-old children’s doses are approved, we will require appointments for children’s first doses at our regional vaccine clinics. Primary care physicians will be able to provide children’s doses – community pharmacies will provide children’s vaccine doses and mostly use an online booking system for appointments.”

Once the wider use is approved, the region can begin tracking the uptake of the vaccine among school-aged children. Currently, 91.7 per cent of residents over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 88.9 per cent fully inoculated.

For those in the 12- to 17-year-old age group, 88 per cent have had one dose while 84 have had two.

“Rapid antigen tests will be offered to schools in situations where they may be of added value, that is high-risk situations in order to prevent whole school closure or as an additional screening tool upon reopening after closure,” said medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang.

In the last couple weeks, the region has been seeing a rise in COVID cases, with Wang noting the Delta variant is on the rise again in the community. She advised residents to remain cautious, practice physical distancing, wear a mask and make sure indoor spaces are well ventilated.

“As normally follows a rise in cases, we are starting to see more outbreaks in various settings. Vaccination policies in workplaces can significantly reduce the spread of outbreaks should they occur. As many cases continue to be among the unvaccinated, we are likely to see some increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions in the coming weeks,” said Wang.

At midweek, there were 224 active cases of COVID-19 in the region, up from 176 a week earlier. A total of 305 people have succumbed to the disease since the pandemic first began, unchanged in the past seven days.

As with the region, the number of cases is spiking upward in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, albeit slightly, with 78 active cases at midweek, up from last week’s 71. There have been 127 fatalities associated with the virus, unchanged for several weeks.

Public health there reports 88.7 per cent of eligible residents has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 86.5 per cent fully inoculated.

The province continues to see growth in the total number of cases, with the tally now at 608,200, up about 4,000 in the past week.

There have been 9,938 deaths attributed to the virus – up 35 over the week before – representing a mortality rate of 1.6 per cent. The ministry reports 593,454 cases (97.6 per cent) have been resolved.

The latest numbers from Health Canada show 23,632 active cases nationwide, basically unchanged from a week earlier. The cumulative total of confirmed cases now stands at 1,754,375, with 29,403 related deaths, a mortality rate of 1.7 per cent. Nationally, 88.7 per cent of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of vaccine, with 85 per cent fully vaccinated.

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