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Families and experts want more guidance for unvaccinated kids as Ontario reopens – 680 News

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Parents and experts say they want clearer guidance about how kids under 12 who aren’t eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations fit into Ontario’s reopening plan.

The province will allow more indoor activities to resume later this week but Stephen Ouderkirk says his family is sticking to outdoor social gatherings with their newborn son who can’t get vaccinated.

“We feel kind of stuck, where there’s clear guidance on what we can do individually but not us as a family,” he said in a recent interview.

“I know I can go into a restaurant and all that, but what can we do with him?”

Ouderkirk said he’d like clear guidelines from the province on how to navigate the months ahead, especially as he prepares to return to work as an elementary school teacher in the fall with students who also aren’t currently eligible for vaccines.

Experts have echoed his sentiment, saying young children and other unvaccinated populations shouldn’t be forgotten as jurisdictions start lifting pandemic measures that have defined the last year and a half of life.

As of Monday, 79 per cent of adults in Ontario had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 56 per cent were fully vaccinated. Youth aged 12 to 17, who were the last demographic group to become eligible for shots, had a 60 per cent first-dose coverage rate and a full vaccination rate of 20 per cent.

The pace of the vaccine rollout and drop in daily infections has led the province to speed up its reopening plan by several days, allowing gyms and restaurants to resume indoor operations this Friday while raising capacity limits for indoor social gatherings.


RELATED: SickKids study shows COVID-19 pandemic continues to greatly impact child and youth mental health


She says she’d like to see details on whether unvaccinated children will be subject to different guidelines when restrictions are eased further, and more assessment of where risks are greatest for them.

University of Toronto epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite says young children are at risk of being left behind as restrictions roll back and says some rules like masking in public places should stay for now.

“I think we’re leaving them behind right now,” Tuite said.

Research indicates young kids aren’t as likely to become severely ill from COVID-19. But Tuite noted that those statistically rare outcomes will be seen more frequently as restrictions roll back and the virus circulates further among children, making it essential for some precautions to remain in place.

The Public Health Agency of Canada outlined activity guidelines based on people’s vaccination status last month but Ontario hasn’t released guidance specific to its reopening plan.

As one example, for someone non or partially vaccinated, gathering indoors with fully vaccinated individuals is allowed but with some measures in place.

Tuite pointed to masking in public places as an effective infection control measure that should stay in place as more businesses reopen. Face coverings will still be required under Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan and beyond, with the policy being re-assessed going forward.

Tuite also noted that the province needs a safety plan for reopening schools that goes beyond relying on vaccination rates in adults and older children.

“Vaccines help to reduce the risk of introduction of cases in the school setting, but they’re not going to alone serve to protect children once they’re in the school setting,” she said.

Last week Ontario’s top doctor began calls for all eligible people – especially young adults and teens – to get vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the planned return to schools in September.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore noted last Tuesday that classes in Ontario schools, as well as many colleges and universities, are due to pick up in less than two months with the goal of holding more classes and extracurriculars in person.

“By getting vaccinated and reducing the risk at a community level, we protect our children,” Dr. Moore said late last week.

Ontario’s opposition parties have said the government needs to improve ventilation and mandate smaller class sizes as it prepares its back-to-school plan.

Pediatric infectious disease physician Dr. Nisha Thampi agreed that higher vaccination rates will help protect children but noted that the dynamic is complicated as people interact with others outside the home with different vaccination statuses.

Families with mixed vaccination status should keep following guidelines like staying home when sick, gathering outdoors where possible and wearing masks inside, she said.

She also stressed that people should keep up with regular handwashing to protect young children from other viruses that are expected to start circulating as social circles grow.

When it comes to how kids fit into the reopening plan, Thampi said she’d like to see more guidance about whether different rules will apply to them when restrictions roll back further, with details on what settings are most risky for them.

“It’s going to be messy when we hold kids to a higher standard of infection prevention than adults,” she said, pointing to the idea of vaccine passports, which were recently been announced in Quebec.

Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have recently reflected considerations for families with mixed vaccine status in their pandemic policies, exempting young children of vaccinated parents from self-isolation rules when entering the provinces, an approach Thampi said makes sense.

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Ottawa Public Health will take vaccines to businesses and groups to increase coverage – Ottawa Citizen

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Community organizations, faith leaders and employers who have a group of people who may benefit from a mobile clinic are asked to contact OPH at 613-691-5505.

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In an effort to reach people who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, Ottawa Public Health is preparing to send mobile vaccination teams to workplaces, places of worship and community groups on request.

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The program is intended to help reduce barriers for people who have not yet received the vaccine “by working with community leaders to provide comfortable, convenient and easily accessible options for vaccination,” the city said in a release. “This is just one more initiative to help ensure that anyone 12 years of age and older in Ottawa who wants the COVID-19 vaccine can get vaccinated.”

Sixty-six per cent of Ottawa residents over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated and 83 per cent have received at least one dose.

But the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said this week that the more transmissible Delta variant will continue to threaten the province until 90 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

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While Ottawa leads the province when it comes to vaccination rates of teens between 12 and 17, many health experts have said the final 10-20 per cent of the population will be the hardest to vaccinate because of barriers and hesitancy.

The Ottawa mobile vaccination program announced Thursday aims to address that.

Community organizations, faith leaders and employers who have a group of people who may benefit from a mobile clinic are asked to contact OPH at 613-691-5505.

There are still many appointments available through the provincial booking site (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ ) for anyone who wants a vaccine. Many pharmacies and family physicians also have vaccines available.

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B.C. sees highest number of COVID-19 cases in a month – The Globe and Mail

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British Columbia’s COVID-19 cases are creeping up again with the province reporting the highest numbers in a month.

Health officials reported 89 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, figures last seen in mid-June.

In a news release, officials say the total number of active infections in B.C. is 781 and there have been no new deaths.

There are 53 people are in hospital with 15 in intensive care.

Health officials say there are two outbreaks in the Fraser Health region, in an acute care facility and a long-term home.

Officials say more than 80 per cent of those eligible have received their first vaccine dose, while 57 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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Vancouver Islands adds 3 new COVID-19 cases | CTV News – CTV News VI

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VICTORIA —
B.C. health officials have identified three new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Thursday.

The cases were among 89 new cases found across the province over the past 24 hours.

There are currently 781 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, including 18 active cases in the Island Health region, according to the Ministry of Health.

Island Health identified the locations of 17 active cases Thursday, including 12 in the South Island, three in the Central Island and two in the North Island.

Since the pandemic began, 148,730 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the province, including 5,203 found in the Vancouver Island region.

No new deaths related to the disease were reported in B.C. over the past 24 hours.

Since the pandemic began, 1,763 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C., including 41 people in the Island Health region.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there are currently two people in hospital for treatment of the disease in the Island Health region, but no one in critical care.

As of Thursday, 80.2 per cent of people aged 12 and older had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C., while 56.9 per cent of eligible people had received two doses.

In total, B.C. has administered 6,361,627 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier Thursday, Island Health announced that a new “Vax Van” would be making stops across the island to offer first-dose vaccinations.

Details on the Vax Van, including its upcoming schedule, can be found here.

Backstory:

CTV News Vancouver Island reports the daily COVID-19 case counts as reported by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, which are based on BCCDC data. There may be a discrepancy between the daily case counts reported by the BCCDC and Island Health.

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