As the vaccine rollout ramps up for youth, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says children between the ages of five and 11 will not be required to provide proof of vaccination in the future.
Bookings opened for kids in that age group on Tuesday morning, and ten children who are patients with SickKids hospital in Toronto became the first in the province to receive the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech doses later that day.
During his COVID-19 update on Thursday, Dr. Kieran Moore said it would be “very premature” to include children in Ontario’s vaccine mandate and regulation process, such as showing a vaccine certificate when entering certain businesses.
“Because this is such a new rollout, and we want parents to feel confident in the decisions that they make and not feel coerced by any means, we want them to make a judgment based on the risks and judgments on the vaccine. We do not anticipate putting the verification process [and] making it applicable to the five and 11-year-olds,” Moore said.
“The government has not made any decision in that regard. Any independent business can make a decision separate from government, but that would not be our advice at present to include it in any verification or certification process.”
Under Ontario’s current set of vaccine certificate regulations, children above the age of 12 are required to show a QR code or proof of vaccination in the form of a document.
“We need more time to continue immunizing these children,” Moore continued. “It would be very premature to mandate their inclusion, in my opinion, and I believe of that of the government into the verification and certification process at present.”
The Chief Medical Officer of Health says officials need more time to review the vaccine in this age group before kids are included as part of any mandate, adding that would be “putting the cart before the horse.”
Moore says recent COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations are up for children between the ages of five and 11, reaffirming that getting youth immunized is critical in limiting spread and transmission.
“It’s a brand new [vaccine] rollout. I honestly don’t see its integration into the verification process at all.”
Vaccinations for children aged five to 11 are set to increase in the province today, with clinics running in Toronto, Windsor and other cities.
We have opened our doors to 5-11-year-olds! Abigail is 10 & she was the 1st recipient of the vaccine at Crossroads! She got a stuffie, stickers, hung out with Elsa & watched Frozen as she waited to leave. Please stop by our clinic today; we are open until 6 pm!???? @VaxHuntersCan pic.twitter.com/yvjCYcMoQl
— Humber River Hospital (@HRHospital) November 25, 2021
Toronto’s vaccine rollout for young children picked up on Thursday, with some clinics at schools, doctors’ offices and in local communities.
Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said city-run clinics would feature selfie stations, stickers and colouring.
“In 36 hours, 18 per cent (36,373) of all 5-11-year-olds (200k total pop.) booked vaccine appointments at five city-run clinics. That’s just the city-run clinics,” Cressy tweeted on Thursday.
“Today, a network of hundreds of pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and school clinics begin. We’re off to a strong start, [Toronto].”
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott says more than 100,000 appointments had been booked for kids since Tuesday’s booking portal went live. That number doesn’t include bookings made through local public health units, pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the province.
More Ontario health units were planning to run child-specific clinics over the weekend and early next month.