Ontario urged to take 'school-based' approach to vaccination youth during COVID-19 vaccine rollout

As Health Canada studies the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11 year-olds in Canada, Ontario's COVID-19 Science Table is recommending strategies to get the vaccinations administered – starting with school-based clinics.

"I would probably get them vaccinated just to protect them from the virus," said Vivian Gleeson, who's son is not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

However, there’s hesitancy among some parents.

"No, I wouldn't be comfortable vaccinated my kids at all,” said one parent at Mooney’s Bay playground. 

Another parent also out at Mooney’s Bay says she wanted to do what was best for her child, which meant waiting on her decision to vaccinate her son.

Earlier this week, Premier Doug Ford said he wants children to get immunized once the shots are approved, but he understands if parents are hesitant. 

"There are many parents anxious to get their child vaccinated but there are many parents who are hesitant and have a lot of questions," said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. "We’re working on campaign to be able to instill confidence and answer the logical questions parents have about safety.”

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Table – which has been advising the government on the pandemic – is suggesting four main strategies for increasing vaccine uptake in children and youth, including using schools as clinics, recommendations from health-care providers, reminders and public health communication campaigns.

 As it stands now, 84 per cent of Ontarians 12 and up are fully vaccinated. Experts say expanding vaccination eligibility to younger children could help the province reach the 90 per cent mark.