'Now is the time' for students aged 12 to 17 to get vaccinated before school, expert says

With September around the corner, some doctors are urging parents of children aged 12 to 17 to get vaccinated in time to build full immunity before school starts again.

“If you look at the minimum interval of time between vaccines, plus factor in that you're not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second dose, now is the time to get vaccinated,” explained infectious disease expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch in a telephone interview Tuesday with CTVNews.ca.

Bogoch urged “school-age children out there” who are eligible for vaccination and want to get the jab -- along with parents -- that this is the time to do it, as “it’s never been easier.”

“It's never been easier to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Canada,” Bogoch said, referencing Canada’s recent glut of supply. “I appreciate some people might not watch the news cycle as closely as others and may just recall headlines of scarcity and long lines…[but] that just doesn't exist right now.”

In Ontario, provincial data shows fewer residents in the 12 to 17 age cohort were signing up for a first shot over the month of July, with a demand for a first dose increasing by only 13 per cent – while demand for a second dose in that age range shot up by 500 per cent.

With six weeks until students are back in school, Ontario’s data shows 65 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 42 per cent have been fully immunized, with the province’s top doctor warning that vaccinated and unvaccinated students will have different sets of rules when schools starts up again.

Nationally, the latest data set from July 17 shows that just under 70 per cent of children aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose, with 43 per cent partially vaccinated and 26 per cent fully vaccinated.

Bogoch said he recognizes that some find vaccinating children against COVID-19 a touchy subject, but hopes “parents and people will hopefully look at good data and high quality information and think about the benefits, the risks, the context of where they live and hopefully they choose to get vaccinated.”

“I'm not here to arm wrestle anybody, I’m just here to have an open discussion about what the vaccines do, what COVID-19 does, what people's true risk of exposure is - not just today or tomorrow, but over time -- who their close contacts are, including vulnerable populations that may or may not be vaccinated,” Bogoch continued.

Bogoch said that “when it all boils down” the data favours getting vaccinated. While ultimately it’s an individual choice, he said “it’s pretty clear that most people are choosing to get it –[but] people have to come to that decision on their own.”

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With files from CTV News’ Queens Park Bureau Chief and Video Journalist Colin D’Mello