Ontario pediatric infectious disease experts urge parents to get kids vaccinated

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TORONTO - Infectious disease experts at Ontario's major pediatric centres are urging caregivers to get their young kids vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza amid surging hospital admissions.

A joint statement from experts at four pediatric hospitals says vaccinations are a critical tool to help mitigate the impacts of a viral season that could prove longer and more severe than years past.

The statement says only seven per cent of Ontario children aged six months to five years have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and as few as two per cent are fully vaccinated.

Doctors say that's particularly concerning since children aged four and under have a higher risk for hospitalization from COVID-19 than any other group of kids and teens.

Several Ontario pediatric hospitals have recently announced they would cut back on surgeries and deploy staff to help backstop overburdened intensive care units and emergency rooms.

Hospital admissions are surging under a triple-threat of respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and COVID-19, at a time when the health-care system was already grappling with record numbers of job vacancies.