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Ontario health units preparing for COVID vaccinations of kids aged five to 11 – The Globe and Mail

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School children play in a Toronto public school on April 6.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Ontario health units are developing plans for the vaccination of children aged five to 11 once COVID-19 shots are approved for them.

Toronto Public Health said Monday that it had formed a planning group that includes health partners, school boards, community representatives and the province, while top doctors for Peel Region, Middlesex-London, Hamilton and Ottawa also said they were making arrangements.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said plans are being made now so that young children can be vaccinated as soon as possible after Health Canada authorizes a COVID-19 shot for them.

“This will help keep our kids safe and provide greater protection in our schools and communities across the city,” he said in a statement, noting Toronto was home to approximately 200,000 children in the five-to-11 group.

Peel Region’s top doctor said his public health unit is “ready to deploy a vaccine strategy” for that cohort, pending approval from Health Canada and guidance from the province, and would keep residents informed on a timeline.

The top doctor for the Middlesex-London said his health unit was working with pediatric care providers to ensure clinics were “appropriately designed to support young children and young families.”

“We are working with families and children to make sure that we’ve thought of all of the potential aspects of this,” Dr. Chris Mackie said in a statement. “We very much hope and expect to hit the ground running as soon as that announcement is made.”

Ottawa Public Health said it is working with stakeholders on different scenarios for vaccinating the city’s 77,000 kids in that age group.

Those scenarios, which will depend on timing of vaccine approval, include looking at increasing staffing and clinic locations as well as outreach to children and their families.

Hamilton’s medical officer of health said her health unit was hoping to announce a plan for vaccinating young children as soon as possible.

“We recognize the anticipation and interest community members are feeling as they wait for a potential announcement regarding COVID-19 vaccine approval for this age group, and the peace of mind and strong protection being fully vaccinated would mean to these young people and their loved ones,” Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said in a statement.

Children born after 2009 are currently not eligible to receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada. Pfizer has said it intends to seek authorization soon for a vaccine intended for kids aged five to 11.

In Toronto, the city’s top doctor said Monday that public health is aiming to be ready for a November start to their immunizations.

Dr. Eileen de Villa noted that COVID-19 infection rates have been increasing among children aged four to 11 in the last three weeks. Last week, that cohort had the highest rate of infection in the city for the first time since the start of the pandemic, she said, at 64 cases per 100,000 population.

That trend isn’t surprising given that children born after 2009 can’t be vaccinated against COVID-19, de Villa said. But she urged families to get vaccinated to protect those who can’t get the shots.

“It is absolutely key for parents to get vaccinated to help ensure the safer reopening of school and the ability to provide ongoing in-person learning,” she said.

She also flagged that “work that has yet to be done” in vaccinating people between the ages of 30 to 49, many of whom may be parents. She said 25 per cent of that age group in the city is not fully vaccinated.

Ontario health units are responsible for administering COVID-19 shots with guidance from the provincial government.

Provincial data as of Monday showed 80 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 70 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Vaccination clinics have been run at or near Ontario schools in the weeks since students have returned to classes in an effort to boost vaccination for eligible students, staff and families.

School staff in Ontario must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be regularly tested for the virus.

No such rule is in place for students, but de Villa wrote to the city’s board of health this month, asking that it request the province to require COVID-19 vaccination for eligible students. The board voted in favour of her recommendation Monday.

In her Sept. 13 letter to the board of health, de Villa referenced the nine other diseases covered under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, which students enrolled in school must be vaccinated against.

COVID-19 is currently not one of those designated diseases, and de Villa wrote that the safety and effectiveness of approved vaccines has been proven in children 12 and older.

“Given the current epidemiology of COVID-19 and the need to support the safe reopening of schools, it recommended that the province require COVID-19 vaccination for students who are eligible based on their age/year of birth,” she wrote.

The province’s top public health doctor has said the province is looking into adding COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of those required for students by law, which allows for some exemptions.

– With files from Noushin Ziafati.

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Sask. to offer monoclonal antibodies to some COVID-19 patients – Flipboard

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Saskatchewan won’t impose more COVID-19 measures: Premier Scott Moe

The Toronto Star – The Canadian Press • 16h

REGINA – Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he will not bring in additional COVID-19 measures because it ultimately takes away people’s personal …

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EOHU recommending flu shots for area residents, as winter approaches – The Review Newspaper

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As the fall and cooler weather arrive, they bring with them the start of flu season. According to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, the flu shot is the best protection against the flu, and with the presence of COVID-19 in the community, getting your flu shot is more important now than ever. The flu shot has been approved for use alongside COVID-19 vaccines and is a key step in keeping healthy this season.

“It’s especially important that people get their flu shot this year,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU). “Both COVID and the flu share symptoms and, despite their similarities, being fully vaccinated for COVID won’t protect you from the flu.”

“Getting the flu shot can help you stay healthy and reduce the pressure on health care centres.”

Getting the flu shot could also help reduce the demand on COVID-19 assessment centres. The fewer number of people who develop flu symptoms, the fewer who will need to get tested for COVID-19.

The flu shot is available at various locations throughout the five Eastern Counties and Cornwall, including through some healthcare providers, community health centres, participating pharmacies and by appointment at the EOHU for children ages 6 months to under 5 years, and their immediate family.

Appointments for children at the EOHU will be available as of November 1. Call to book your child’s appointment starting on October 25. Residents must bring a piece of identification to their appointment. To find out more about where you can get the flu shot, visit EOHU.ca.

Certain groups of people are at higher risk of complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get immunized. These include:

  • children 6 months to less than 5 years of age
  • people aged 65 and older
  • people with chronic medical conditions

If you live with or provide care to someone who falls under one of the groups listed above, or care for newborn infants and children under 6 months of age, it is also highly recommended that you get immunized. This simple step will help protect you and those around you.

For more information about the flu shot, visit EOHU.ca or call  613-933-1375 or 800-267-7120.

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Facebook, YouTube take down Bolsonaro video over false vaccine claim

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Facebook and YouTube have removed from their platforms a video by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in which the far-right leader made a false claim that COVID-19 vaccines were linked with developing AIDS.

Both Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said the video, which was recorded on Thursday, violated their policies.

“Our policies don’t allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.

YouTube confirmed that it had taken the same step later in the day.

“We removed a video from Jair Bolsonaro’s channel for violating our medical disinformation policy regarding COVID-19 for alleging that vaccines don’t reduce the risk of contracting the disease and that they cause other infectious diseases,” YouTube said in a statement.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), COVID-19 vaccines approved by health regulators are safe for most people, including those living with HIV, the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, known as AIDS.

Bolsonaro’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment outside normal hours.

In July, YouTube removed videos from Bolsonaro’s official channel in which he recommended using hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin against COVID-19, despite scientific proof that these drugs are not effective in treating the disease.

Since then, Bolsonaro has avoided naming both drugs on his live broadcasts, saying the videos could be removed and advocating “early treatment” in general for COVID-19.

Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the coronavirus in July last year, had credited his taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, for his mild symptoms. While Bolsonaro himself last January said that he wouldn’t take any COVID-19 vaccine, he did vow to quickly inoculate all Brazilians.

In addition to removing the video, YouTube has suspended Bolsonaro for seven days, national newspapers O Estado de S. Paulo and O Globo reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

YouTube did not respond to a separate Reuters request for comment regarding the suspension on Monday night.

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Additional reporting by Gram Slattery in Rio de Janeiro and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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