Less than half of Canada’s children aged five to 11 have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, but experts in Canada say now may not be the time to take them individually to school-going students. be made mandatory.
In December, The City Council of Windsor endorsed a recommendation Ask your health unit to have all elementary school students vaccinated before returning to school.
Meanwhile, in the United States, New York City now requires students to be vaccinated before participating in extra-curricular activities. California, which already has strict vaccine requirements for students, is considering adding a COVID-19 vaccine to that list.
Public health researcher Devon Grayson said, “In provinces that do not have vaccine mandate policies, it is a risky effort to start a conversation about vaccine mandates at a time.”
Grayson, assistant professor of health communications at the University of British Columbia, has studied the efficacy of the childhood vaccine mandate. They found that when the uptick increases, the boost cannot be attributed to the mandate alone. Improved communication, outreach and reporting systems also played a role.
In fact, in some jurisdictions, the mandate did more harm than good by turning some people away from vaccinations, Greyson says.
“I recommend first really trying to build trust in the population and make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated before considering a policy with potentially negative consequences on people or parents,” he said. .
No provincial or territorial government has announced plans to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine in schools, but in jurisdictions such as Ontario and New Brunswick, students already entering public school systems are vaccinated for certain preventable diseases. is required.
Legislation to strengthen mandatory-vaccination rules NB for school children was proposed in 2020 but was defeated. “There are different opinions, and very strong opinions,” Premier Blaine Higgs, who voted in favor of the change, said earlier this month on CBC power and politics,
Dr. Cora Constantinescu, a pediatrician who advises parents who are hesitant to vaccines, says that as well as decreasing the amount of vaccine among children between the ages of five and 11 and children returning to classes They need to get vaccinated as soon as possible. But he stopped calling for the mandate.
While Constantinescu believes a vaccine mandate could be effective, he pointed out that such a policy could result in some children being excluded from the classroom.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, only about five percent of children between the ages of five and 11 have been fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expresses concern over low vaccination rates on Wednesday, saying it puts the most vulnerable in society at greater risk.
Access remains a major issue
In October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that COVID-19 vaccine to be added to the list of vaccinations It is necessary for the students to be present in person at the school. The policy will be implemented after the federal government approves the vaccines, and the state will provide exemptions for medical reasons, as well as religious and personal beliefs.
in some school districts Mandate already enacted in the state.
Young children are especially good at transmitting respiratory illnesses — and likely the case with COVID-19, according to Annette Reagan, an assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in California.
That justifies adding COVID-19 vaccines to the current mandate, she says.
“Increasing vaccination rates and preventing transmission among young children is a good thing for our community, but it comes with a mandate,” Reagan said, noting that such policies limit parental autonomy.
According to Greyson, the reasons for the low uptake among the pediatric group in Canada varied, but could be explained by time and limited access to clinics.
Pfizer’s comarinati vaccine was approved by Health Canada for a five to 11 cohort in late November — weeks before the holidays when non-emergency medical appointments slow down.
Pediatric vaccine doses may be less widely accessible than adult doses, Konstantinscu said, making it more difficult for parents to vaccinate their children.
“The low-hanging fruits of the vaccine are always within reach,” Constantinescu said. “We didn’t make it as easily accessible as we could have been.”
However, Constantinescu believes that narcissistic children experience more “mild” illness when they contract COVID-19, a key factor behind lower vaccination rates – a message on which Parents should reconsider.
“We pray and hope that this is going to be a mild illness in most children. It will be fantastic and I sure hope so, but we don’t know,” she said.
“What we do know is that the vaccine is safe and we have enough supplies.”
‘It’s in your child’s best interest’
Perhaps the most significant risk that comes with a vaccine mandate, however, is the potential to miss out on personalized learning for children with vaccine-hesitant parents.
Constantinescu argues that some children may not receive the protection or benefits of personalized learning provided by vaccination.
With new evidence that negative side effects, such as myocarditis, are rare in the five to 11 bracket, she says now is the time to “shout from the roof” that vaccination against COVID-19 is safe.
“This is the top vaccine-preventable threat to our children and we have a safe vaccine,” she said.
“We need to tell parents that it’s about your child’s safety, first and foremost. It’s not about saving the pandemic, it’s not about saving the world.”
“That’s because it’s in your child’s best interest.”
Written by Jason Worms, with files from Ashley Fraser, CBC News and The Associated Press.