Alberta children have the highest rate of active COVID-19 cases of any age group

Children between the ages of five and nine years old currently have the most active COVID-19 cases in Alberta of any age group relative to its population, according to the latest provincial data. 

As of Monday’s data update, 2,069 of the province’s 21,307 active cases are among those aged between five and nine. 

That translates to 742 active cases per 100,000 people, the most of any age range. 

Children aged 10-19 years old represent the second-highest active case rate at about 622 per 100,000.

The total number of active cases among school-aged children (between five and 19 years old) now stands at 5,439, an increase of 4,168 from the start of September. 

“I really don't see this getting better without a full closure of non-essential businesses and potentially a closure of schools as well,” said Dr. Tehseen Ladha, a pediatrician.

“Overall children won't have severe outcomes, but if you increase the number of children who get infected, you increase the number of children with severe outcomes.”

Active cases are most frequent among those aged between 30 and 39 years old.

Those trends represent a reversal from the second wave of the pandemic last September, when active cases were largely centred around those aged 80 and over.

A spokesperson for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange declined an interview request Tuesday.

In August, she announced the province’s back-to-school plan that left health measures to school boards instead of creating province-wide rules.

Earlier Tuesday, the Alberta Teachers’ Association called for the provincial government to introduce mandatory vaccinations for all teachers and school staff. 

“The best way to support student safety at a time when so many students cannot be vaccinated is to ensure that the adults around them are vaccinated,” said ATA president Jason Schilling. 

Only children aged 12 or older are eligible to be vaccinated. 

Manufacturer Pfizer has said it is seeking authorization for its vaccines to be used on children aged five and 11 after submitting testing data. 

Health authorities in Toronto and Ottawa have said they have begun logistic planning to distribute vaccinations to younger children once the shot is approved for that age range.