Ottawa doctor hosts Junior Jabapalooza amid lagging paediatric vaccination rates in Ontario

Amid lagging paediatric COVID-19 vaccination rates in Ontario, a local family physician once again put on a 'Junior Jabapalooza' to immunize children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Ten-year-old Katja Einarson got her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday, doing her part to keep the community safe.

"I'm doing fine, the person who did it made it numb, so I didn't feel anything at all," Einarson said.

"The vaccines are a step toward protecting our kids and everybody in the community," added her dad Leif Einarson.

Ottawa family physician Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth put on the clinic once again in an effort to help boost vaccine coverage for kids.

"Kids from ages 5-11 coming for their first or second doses, coming inside, and we're doing drive through for children with disabilities," said Dr. Kaplan-Myrth.

"Right now, the risk is still very high that kids will get COVID at school, and by having two doses, the children are significantly better protected," she added.

Ontario's paediatric vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country. Just 51.9 per cent of kids between 5 and 11 across the province have had at least one shot. In Ottawa, 66 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 have received one shot, while 16 per cent have received two doses.

The COVID-19 vaccination coverage among kids, some experts say, is increasingly important with a recent return to in-person learning.

"In general for that group vaccinating them can help them but also the community. For them I really worry about their mental health and keeping schools open," said Dr. Doug Manuel, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital.

Dr. Manuel is also driving the importance of a booster shot for adults, suggesting a change to vaccine passports could be needed.

"A two-dose passport doesn't make a lot of sense scientifically, a three-dose passport does, but it's a another mandate, and it's not perfect," said Dr. Manuel.

And so, while kids like Katja did their part Sunday, she has a message for many in the province still without a shot.

"It makes it safer to have your second dose and they really should get it if they feel it's safe for them," she said.