Over 6,700 COVID-19 vaccine appointments booked for Simcoe Muskoka kids in 24 hours

Simcoe Muskoka parents booked over 6,000 pediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 11 in just one day.

By Wednesday morning, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said roughly 6,750 appointments were booked up to Dec. 10, which doesn't include those made at participating pharmacies.

There are approximately 43,773 children aged five to 11 living in Simcoe Muskoka.

Additionally, SMDHU said clinics for Friday and Saturday were booked, and over 80 per cent of appointments for next week were filled.

According to recent data, one-quarter of COVID-19 cases are in children under 12.

Simcoe Muskoka has nearly two dozen school outbreaks. The health unit attributes most to close contact in the household.

To better protect the younger population, the region's medical officer of health revised the 10-day isolation rule to include those 18 years and younger who are not fully vaccinated and live in the same house with an unvaccinated person identified as a close contact with a positive case.

The new safety measure is to avoid closing schools and reduce the case counts among the younger population.

"In-person learning is essential for the overall well-being of children and youth, and keeping schools open is one of our highest priorities," said Dr. Charles Gardner.

"This additional public health measure aims to decrease the number of asymptomatic children entering the schools, which in turn will protect more student cohorts and minimize learning disruptions due to COVID-19," he added.

Parents and caregivers can book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment online through the provincial portal.

Vaccinations are also available at participating pharmacies.