Eligible kids need to get first shot by July 24 to be fully vaccinated for start of school

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Area health units are reminding residents that children between the ages of 12 and 17 must get their first COVID-19 vaccination shot by this weekend in order to be fully vaccinated when school starts.

Children need to have their first shot by July 24. This will ensure they are eligible for their second dose and be fully vaccinated by Labour Day.

Kids would receive the Pfizer vaccine, as it's the only one approved for those between ages 12 and 17.

The Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) says as of Saturday in that age group 73 per cent have received at least one dose, and 25 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

Under direction from MLHU, the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board emailed parents, informing them that in order for children who are eligible to be fully protected by Labour Day weekend, they must get their first vaccine by this Saturday.

“We recognize that 12-17 year olds will be back in in-person activity, that's where they flourish, that’s where they want to be, and we want to be able to support them in a way where COVID isn't transmitting," said Dr. Alex Summers with the MLHU.

Mark Fisher, director of education for the Thames Valley District School Board, says the board supports the push.

“This is an important step toward ensuring schools are safe places to learn and work for all students and staff.”

Meantime, the provincial government is facing questions over the back to school plan.

“We haven't heard anything from the government or the from the ministry with regards to directions to masks, whether they be worn at all, or a on voluntary basis, or if there would be some combination between the two," says Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Thames Valley Local President Craig Smith.

Smith adds that the 12- to17-year-old age group reflects a small number of elementary school students.

"The overwhelming majority of students we teach are 11 and under, and right now there is no plan for vaccination at all for that age group. (This) is some cause for real concern, which is going to put pressure on the government and the school boards to come up with plans to keep schools safe and that they remain open, in a sustainable way through the school year."

Ontario’s back-to-school plan is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

To book a vaccination appointment online click here, though walk-ins are welcome at all mass vaccination sites and pop-up clinics.

London and Middlesex residents can also call 226-289-3560 or toll free at 1-888-333-2175 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. to book an appointment.

Elgin and Oxford County residents can reserve a shot by calling 1-800-922-0096 ext. 9 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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