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COVID-19 update for Aug. 25: Exposure alert for 26 more B.C. flights | Small unvaccinated population accounts for most of B.C.'s cases | AMA encourages vaccine mandates – Vancouver Sun

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Aug. 25, 2021.

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We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS

As of the latest figures given on Aug. 25

• Total number of confirmed cases: 161,969 (5,356 active cases)
• New cases since Aug. 23: 698
• Total deaths: 1,802 (one additional death)
• Hospitalized cases: 139 (up one since Tuesday)
• Intensive care: 75 (down three since Tuesday)
• Total vaccinations: 3,869,329 received first dose; 3,493,119 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 154,669
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 14

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IN-DEPTH:COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021

COVID-19: Have you been exposed? Here are all B.C. public health alerts

COVID-19 at B.C. schools: Here are the school district exposure alerts

COVID-19: Avoid these hand sanitizers that are recalled in Canada

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COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.

3 p.m. – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.

B.C. health officials reported 698 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of total active cases in the province to 5,356.

Of the active cases, 139 are in hospital with the novel coronavirus, including 75 in intensive care.

Interior Health has more than third of B.C.’s total new cases, with 252. Fraser Health reported 203 new infections; Vancouver Coastal Health, 129; Island Health, 69; and Northern Health, 45.

One person has died in the last 24-hour reporting period. The provincial death toll from the pandemic now sits at 1,802.

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As of Wednesday, 83.5 per cent, or more than 3.86 million British Columbians age 12 and older, have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 75.4 per cent are fully vaccinated.

From Aug. 10 to 23, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people accounted for 83 per cent of cases and 85 per cent of hospitalizations, said the ministry.

Air Canada mandates COVID-19 vaccination for all employees

Air Canada said on Wednesday it would require all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the fast-spreading Delta variant drives an increase in infections.

The move by Canada’s largest carrier was in line with a government mandate that workers in the transportation sector be vaccinated by the end of October and follows similar moves by other major companies, including United Airlines.

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Workers who are not vaccinated by Oct. 30 will face termination or be sent on unpaid leave, Air Canada said. It has also made full vaccination a condition of employment for new employees.

However, the carrier will accommodate workers who cannot be vaccinated for reasons such as medical conditions.

— Reuters

Exposure alert for 26 more B.C. flights

The B.C. Centre of Disease Control has issued alerts for 26 B.C. flights with potential COVID-19 exposure.

The affected flights are:

Aug. 10
• Air Canada/Jazz Flight 8415, Kelowna to Vancouver
• Air Canada/Jazz Flight 8568, Vancouver to Regina

Aug. 12
• Air Canada Flight 861, London to Vancouver

Aug. 13
• Air Canada Flight 224, Vancouver to Calgary
• Air Canada Flight 861, London to Vancouver

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Aug. 14
• WestJet Flight 3303, Regina to Kelowna

Aug. 15
• Air Canada Flight 221, Calgary to Vancouver
• Flair Flight 319, Waterloo to Kelowna
• Flair Flight 691, Winnipeg to Abbotsford
• WestJet Flight 119, Calgary to Vancouver

Aug. 16
• Air Canada Flight 344, Vancouver to Ottawa
• Swoop Flight 201, Edmonton to Abbotsford
• Swoop Flight 602, Calgary to Abbotsford

Aug. 18
• Air Canada Flight 184, Vancouver to Toronto
• Air Canada Flight 228, Vancouver to Calgary
• Turkish Airlines Flight 4928, Istanbul to Vancouver

Aug. 19
• Air Canada Flight 343, Ottawa to Vancouver
• Flair Flight 516, Calgary to Victoria
• Lufthansa Flight 476, Munich to Vancouver

Aug. 20
• Lufthansa Flight 492, Frankfurt to Vancouver
• WestJet Flight 112, Vancouver to Calgary

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Aug. 21
• Air Canada Flight 997, Mexico City to Vancouver
• Air Canada Flight 1129, Toronto to Kelowna

Aug. 22
• Air Canada Flight 213, Calgary to Vancouver
• Flair Flight 604, Edmonton to Abbotsford
• Flair Flight 517, Victoria to Calgary

For row information, visit the BCCDC’s full listing of all exposure flights here.

Delta Air Lines to impose surcharge on unvaccinated employees

Delta Air Lines will impose a $200 monthly surcharge on employees who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming the first major U.S. company to levy a penalty to encourage workers to get protected.

The new policy was outlined in a company memo Wednesday from CEO Ed Bastian, who said 75 per cent of the carrier’s workers already are vaccinated. Increasing cases of coronavirus linked to the “very aggressive” Delta variant are driving the push for all employees to get the shots, he said.

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The fee applies to employees in the airline’s health-care plan who haven’t received shots by Nov. 1. The company also will require weekly testing for employees who aren’t vaccinated by mid-September.

– Bloomberg

Small unvaccinated population accounts for most of B.C.’s cases

Ministry of Health statistics show that the unvaccinated population is driving the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia.

Despite making up just 24 per cent of the province’s total population, B.C.’s unvaccinated population, which includes children under 12 who are not eligible for immunization, accounted for more than 70 per cent of the positive tests in the last week and just under 78 per cent of recent hospitalizations.

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According to the B.C. COVID-19 numbers released on Tuesday, nearly 3.5 million British Columbians, or 69 per cent of the province’s population of 5.07 million, are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 1.2 million remain unvaccinated.

A further 378,420 individuals, or 7.4 per cent of the population, are partially vaccinated having received one shot of COVID-19 vaccine.

B.C. COVID-19 Cases (Aug. 16-22):

  • Unvaccinated: 2,870 (70.2%)
  • Partially vaccinated: 541 (13.2%)
  • Fully vaccinated: 680 (16.6%)

B.C. COVID-19 Hospitalizations (Aug. 9-22):

  • Unvaccinated: 108 (77.7%)
  • Partially vaccinated: 11 (7.9%)
  • Fully vaccinated: 20 (14.4%)

– Scott Brown

American Medical Association encourages vaccine mandates

The American Medical Association on Tuesday urged more entities to require vaccination to help gain control of the outbreak, warning that otherwise “we could be stuck fighting this virus for many more months or even years to come.”

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“With the highly transmissible and more virulent Delta variant wreaking havoc and emergency departments once again overwhelmed, physicians and all frontline health care workers need help. The way to regain the upper hand in this fight is requiring vaccinations — specifically vaccine mandates,” AMA president Dr. Gerald E. Harmon said in a statement.

“Now is the time for the public and private sectors to come together, listen to the science, and mandate vaccination.”

Harmon said similar mandates have been used for generations in the U.S. and around the world to “defeat polio, measles, and other vaccine-preventable disease.”

Vaccine protection wanes within six months

Protection against COVID-19 offered by two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines begins to fade within six months, underscoring the need for booster shots, according to researchers in Britain.

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After five to six months, the effectiveness of the Pfizer jab at preventing infection in the month after the second dose fell from 88% to 74%, an analysis of data collected in Britain’s ZOE COVID study showed.

For the AstraZeneca vaccine, effectiveness fell from 77 per cent to 67 per cent after four to five months.

– Reuters

Students cheer while faculty gives failing grade to new B.C. rules for post secondary schools

Post-secondary students must be fully vaccinated if they want to live in campus residences or take part in studies that require them to work in seniors’ care homes, but students will not have to be immunized to attend lectures in classrooms.

The new provincial health orders were announced Tuesday and come into effect on Sept. 7.

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However, masks will be required in lecture halls and classrooms under Monday’s mask order by B.C.’s provincial health officer.

“We thought we would be able to release some of the restrictions, however, we know there is a need to take further measures,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said in announcing the new orders, which come as COVID-19 cases have been creeping upwards in B.C.

However, groups that represent educators in B.C. fear the measures do not go far enough, said Lynne Marks, president of the University of Victoria Faculty Association.

“The concern is because we are in Stage 3 of B.C.’s pandemic plan, where 50 people or 50 per cent capacity is the maximum allowed for indoor gatherings, and that is not going to apply to post-secondary classrooms,” said Marks. “In the biggest universities, you can have 300 to 500 students in a classroom with no physical distancing requirements.”

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Marks said more than 2,900 students and faculty in B.C. have signed a petition calling for mandatory immunization or, alternatively, rapid COVID-19 testing before unvaccinated students attend classes at post-secondary institutions. She said she does not understand why Henry has rejected their request.

– Lisa Cordasco

B.C. reports 641 new cases, no additional deaths

B.C. health officials reported 641 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

There are 138 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospital; more than half, 78, are in intensive care.

It’s the most hospitalizations since June 15 (139).

As of Tuesday, 71.1 per cent of British Columbians, more than 3.48 million people, were fully vaccinated, while 83.3 per cent had received at least one shot of vaccine.

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B.C.’s Ministry of Health said between Aug. 9 and 22, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 83.4 per cent of cases and 85.6 per cent of hospitalizations.

There were no new COVID-19 related deaths reported Tuesday. B.C.’s pandemic death toll remains at 1,801.

Also Tuesday, Fraser Health declared the end of an outbreak at KinVillage in South Delta. That leaves six outbreaks in long-term care (Heritage Village in Fraser Health; Village at Mill Creek, Nelson Jubilee Manor, Kootenay Street Village, Cottonwoods Care Centre and Brookhaven Care Centre in Interior Health; five in assisted or independent living facilities (Nicola Meadows, Hawthorn Park, David Lloyd, Sun Pointe Village and Hardy View Lodge, all in Interior Health); and one in acute care (Peace Arch Hospital in Fraser Health).

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Masks once again required on transit, B.C. Ferries

The resumption of B.C.’s indoor mask mandate means face coverings will once against be required on public transit.

Beginning Wednesday, both TransLink, which operates transit in the Lower Mainland, and B.C. Transit will require customers to mask up while using transit and while boarding or waiting for transit at any indoor or sheltered stations and stops.

TransLink says there are some exceptions to the policy:

  • Anyone with an underlying medical condition or disability which inhibits the ability to wear a mask or face covering;
  • Persons unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance;
  • Children under 12 years of age;
  • Employees working behind a physical barrier or within areas designated for employees and not for public access;
  • Police, employees, or first responders in an emergency.

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B.C. Ferries is also reminding travellers that masks will be required on its vessels and inside it terminals starting Aug. 25.

“Some exemptions will apply to the policy, such as if a customer is inside a vehicle or consuming food or drinks in designated areas for this purpose,” the ferry corporation.

“In the event that a passenger cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons, B.C. Ferries may require passengers to present documentation from a healthcare professional.”

B.C. Lions backing province’s proof of vaccine policy

The Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions have come out in support of the B.C. government’s proof of vaccination policy.

On Monday, Premier John Horgan announced that beginning Sept. 13 all British Columbians will need a vaccine card showing proof of receiving at least one dose of vaccine to get into restaurants, clubs, ticketed sporting events and organized receptions. Starting on Oct. 24, the public will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated with two doses.

Along with being “very supportive” of the new B.C. Vaccine Card, Lions president Rick LeLacheur says the club also welcomes the return of the indoor mask mandate that was announced Tuesday by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“Many of our season ticket holders have already expressed their support of this,” said LeLacheur.

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The Lions next home game is Sept. 11 against the Ottawa RedBlacks.

Mask mandate back in indoor spaces in B.C., including K-12 schools

B.C. is resuming a mask mandate in indoor settings as COVID-19 cases continue to creep upwards.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the province-wide announcement on Tuesday, alongside education officials.

The new temporary health order, which starts Wednesday, will apply to all indoor spaces including malls, stores, coffee shops, municipal spaces, recreation centres, as well as restaurants, pubs, and public transit, said Henry.

Face masks are also going to be required for B.C. K-12 staff and some students, similar to the mask mandate in place earlier this year.

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“The mask requirement that was in place last spring will continue in place to start this upcoming school year,” said Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside.

That means Grade 4 to 12 students as well as K-12 staff will have to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas, including classrooms and school buses.

Students from kindergarten to Grade 3 are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks.

— Cheryl Chan


B.C. MAP OF WEEKLY COVID CASE COUNTS, VACCINATION RATES

Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

–with files from The Canadian Press

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U.S. President Joe Biden receives COVID-19 booster shot following CDC backing – Global News

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U.S. President Joe Biden rolled up his shirt sleeve for a COVID-19 vaccine booster inoculation on Monday, hoping to provide a powerful example for Americans on the need to get the extra shot even as millions go without their first.

In getting the booster, Biden dismissed criticism that the United States should distribute more vaccines worldwide before allowing boosters at home.

“We are going to do our part,” he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week backed an additional dose of the Pfizer Inc BioNTech vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older, adults with underlying medical conditions and adults in high-risk working and institutional settings.

Biden, 78, said his wife Jill would also get a booster shot soon.

Read more:
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine given full approval by U.S. regulators

While scientists are divided over the need for booster shots when so many people in the United States and other countries remain unvaccinated, Biden announced the push in August as part of an effort to shore up protection against the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Only people who received their last dose of Pfizer’s shot at least six months ago are eligible for another shot now, U.S. regulators said. The FDA has not yet considered Moderna’s application for boosters and Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for one.


Click to play video: 'U.S. to donate half a billion additional Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines'



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U.S. to donate half a billion additional Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines


U.S. to donate half a billion additional Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines

U.S. officials have cited a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” that state, local and federal officials as well as private employers have tried to counter with mandates to get the shots or, in some cases, face repeated testing.

But the aggressive American push for boosters, before many poorer nations have been able to provide even a modicum of protection for their most vulnerable populations, has drawn the ire of the World Health Organization and some aid groups, which have called on the U.S. to pause third shots to free up supply for the global vaccination effort.

Read more:
U.S. will give COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all Americans amid Delta surge

Biden said last week that the U.S. was purchasing another 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine — for a total of 1 billion over the coming year — to donate to less well off nations.


Click to play video: 'U.S. FDA, CDC support Pfizer-BioNTech boosters for people high-risk or aged 65+'



1:54
U.S. FDA, CDC support Pfizer-BioNTech boosters for people high-risk or aged 65+


U.S. FDA, CDC support Pfizer-BioNTech boosters for people high-risk or aged 65+

Vice President Kamala Harris, 56, received the Moderna vaccine, for which federal regulators have not yet authorized boosters — but they are expected to in the coming weeks. Regulators are also expecting data about the safety and efficacy of a booster for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot soon.

At least 2.66 million Americans have received booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine since mid-August, according to the CDC. About 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 through the Pfizer shot. U.S. regulators recommend getting the boosters at least six months after the second shot of the initial two-dose series.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Cuba launches commercial exports of COVID-19 vaccines – Vancouver Is Awesome

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HAVANA (AP) — Cuba has begun commercial exports of its homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, sending shipments of the three-dose Abdala vaccine to Vietnam and Venezuela.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced the arrival in Vietnam on his Twitter feed Sunday. The official Cubadebate news website said the shipment included 900,000 doses purchased by Hanoi and 150,000 more donated by Cuba.

Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited Cuba last week and toured the laboratory that produces the vaccine, announcing an agreement to buy at least 5 million doses.

Cuba’s Center of Genetic Immunology and Biotechnology also announced that initial shipments of the Abdala shots were sent to Venezuela over the weekend.

That country’s vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, announced in June that Venezuela had agreed to buy $12 million worth of the Cuban vaccine, though officials have declined to say how many doses were involved.

Another Cuban-developed COVID-19 vaccine is being produced in Iran.

Cuba also hopes to extend exports of its locally developed vaccines, and last week asked the World Health Organization to approve them, which many countries require before importing vaccines.

Cuban scientists have said the vaccines are more than 90% effective against illness, though — like all vaccines — less so against mere infection.

Cuba plans to fully vaccinate 90% of its population by the end of November — a key step to reopening an economy heavily dependent on tourism.

Cuba´s director of epidemiology, Francisco Durán, said Monday that the country of some 11 million people has registered 860,799 infections with COVID-19 and 7,279 deaths during the pandemic.

Andrea Rodríguez, The Associated Press

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Canadian kids were at low risk of severe COVID-19 early in the pandemic, before Delta: study – Global News

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Severe cases of COVID-19 were very rare among Canadian children during the first waves of the pandemic, according to a new study by researchers who warn the findings should not be taken as a reason not to vaccinate youth.

The study was published Monday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal and looked at 264 reported cases of children hospitalized in Canada between March 25 and Dec. 31, 2020, before the more infectious Delta variant emerged.

Of those cases, 43 per cent had been hospitalized for another reason, such as a fracture, and it was only after they were admitted that the positive test came to light.

Read more:
COVID-19 hospitalizations among Canada’s children remain low despite Delta surge: experts

Nearly 34,000 Canadians of all ages were hospitalized during the same time frame.

“If you look at the numbers in total, that’s only 150 children hospitalized with COVID during the first two waves here in Canada,” said study co-lead author Dr. Fatima Kakkar of Montreal’s Ste-Justine Hospital.

“These are very small numbers, when you compare with what has happened in adults.”

The study was conducted before the emergence of the more infectious Delta variant, which now accounts for most COVID-19 infections in Canada.

The research also took place before COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for youth aged 12 and older. Of the cases studied, 77 involved kids aged 13 to 17. Pfizer has said it intends to seek authorization soon for a vaccine intended for kids aged five to 11.

Researchers originally believed that children may be at higher risk for severe disease, since this is typically seen with respiratory infection in the pediatric population.

Among the 150 children admitted directly because of the coronavirus, the most common symptoms were fever (70 per cent) and cough (34 per cent).


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: the upward trend in cases among children'



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COVID-19: the upward trend in cases among children


COVID-19: the upward trend in cases among children

Half had a severe form of the disease, with 21 per cent admitted to intensive care and 13 per cent needing respiratory or cardiac support.

Researchers add that more than three per cent of Canadian children — a high among all age groups in the country — have recently been shown to carry antibodies to COVID-19, indicating that they have been exposed to the virus.

But the relatively small number of pediatric admissions shows that children had less severe infections than adults, even though they were potentially infected more often, Kakkar said.

Overall, 39 per cent of children and youth hospitalized for COVID-19 had at least one co-morbidity and those with severe disease were more likely to have an underlying health condition including obesity, neurological or respiratory issues.

“We often talk about children who have comorbidities and who are sicker, (…) but 60 per cent had no comorbidity,” she said.

“They were healthy children who were hospitalized for the disease. On the other hand, when we look at the severity, the most severe cases were in children who had comorbidities, such as obesity, major neurodevelopmental disorders.”

READ MORE: Vaccinated and unvaccinated Canadians have very negative relationships: poll

Deaths of children infected with COVID-19 were also very rare, confirming the findings of other studies.

But even with the encouraging conclusions, parents should not take from it a false sense of security and not vaccinate their child, Kakkar said, given children in good health also ended up in hospital.

“We do not know, among these children who are in good health, which will be the sickest, and we know that when we have a severe disease, we have consequences,” Kakkar said.

“A child intubated in intensive care needs months of rehabilitation, and unfortunately we cannot predict which child will fall into this category.’

An unvaccinated child will also be more likely to continue the spread of the virus within their own family and friends.

She also noted the Delta variant is much more transmissible and currently wreaking havoc among unvaccinated adults.

“I do not want to discourage parents at all from having their child vaccinated,” she said.

“We really have to look at the total well-being of the child: what will allow them to have a normal life, to do activities, to play sports, to see friends? It’s vaccination.”

Still, Kakkar said the benefits of attending school and seeing friends are essential to development.

“There is a lot of anxiety among parents about the risk of COVID in children,” Kakkar said.

“It is important to reassure parents, it is not the same disease as in adults, (so) I hope that will allow the children to live a little more normal life.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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