WECHU working to reduce vaccine hesitancy for children aged five to 11

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is trying to reduce COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy among local parents and is continuing to prepare for the vaccine rollout for children aged five to 11.

Health unit CEO Nicole Dupuis says they are expecting some hesitation when younger children become eligible.

“We have seen some reservations and hesitancy amongst the 12-17 age group, so we certainly anticipate moving to a younger age group that we’ll see similar reservations,” says Dupuis.

Children born after 2009 are currently not eligible to receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada. On Oct. 18, Health Canada received a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech seeking an authorization for the use of its Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 to 11 years of age.

“As with all COVID-19 vaccines, the Department will prioritize the review of this submission, while maintaining its high scientific standards for safety, efficacy and quality,” said a statement from the federal government.

WECHU hopes a new provincial COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service by Sick Kids will help local parents with questions.

“We want to make sure parents have all of the information that they need and we’re here to support them before we get to that stage where they are eligible,” says Dupuis.

WECHU says they will be working with hospital partners, primary care providers and pharmacies in the coming weeks on plans for distributing the vaccine to children. The health unit has also submitted a plan to the Ministry of Health.

Acting medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai says it’s particularly important to get the vaccination rates up in youth and children when they are eligible.

“We have to continue to work towards that goal so that we can continue to keep schools open for instruction,” says Nesathurai.

A recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute found that 51 per cent of Canadian parents plan to get their children vaccinated as soon as it is approved, while 18 per cent said they plan to eventually get their children vaccinated, but would wait a while first. Twenty-three per cent said they will not get their children vaccinated, and nine per cent said they weren’t sure.

“No. not at all,” says mom Sarah Awad. “Imagine they do all get vaccinated and then the virus is still there. So, that was just pointless?”

Awad tells CTV News she’ll be frustrated if vaccines for youth are mandated.

“It’s a nay for me I think,” she says.

Other parents like Blessing Mohamed are also hesitant.

“Honestly, what’s the benefit of vaccinating kids under 12?” Mohamed wants more research developed before having her young child vaccinated. “You can’t put the kids under more pressure!”

New dad Brandon Marshall is in favour, “I’m all for it.”

Marshall says he feels all age groups should be eligible and encourages everyone in the community to roll up their sleeves.

“One hundred percent everybody should get their shot,” Marshall adds. “We don’t want anybody to get our kid sick so definitely would want to say yes to them getting their shot.”

SCHOOL OUTBREAKS AND DISMISSALS

WECHU has dismissed about 300 Windsor-Essex school cohorts since the beginning of September.

The health unit has also declared three more school outbreaks, bringing the total to nine active school outbreaks in the region.

The new outbreaks are at St. Angela Catholic Elementary School, Mount Carmel Blytheswood Public School and Giles Campus French Immersion Public School.

- With files from CTV Windsor's Chris Campbell

Newsletters

Breaking News alerts, info on contests, and special offers from partners