Here’s how Hamilton’s COVID-19 vaccination rate for kids aged 5 to 11 compares

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Published December 31, 2021 at 7:26 pm

Five days ahead of the return to school, Hamilton trails some nearby counterparts when it comes to vaccinating younger children to better protect them from COVID-19.

Children aged five to 11 became vaccine eligible in late November. The most recent data available through the City of Hamilton shows that 37.01 per cent of children in that age group have received their first dose, and 1.79 per cent have received a second dose.

Whatever the contributing factors, the first-dose coverage in that child cohort is fifth out of six public health units that are nearby and/or in InSauga’s coverage regions.

  • In Halton Region, 55 per cent of younger children have received a dose, and 5 per cent have both.
  • In Waterloo Region, there is 43.85 first-dose coverage, but only 0.01 for second doses.
  • Durham Region has started vaccination for 41.5 per cent of the younger childen, and 0.3 have gone back for a second jab.
  • Niagara Region is at 39.3 for first doses and 0.7 for seconds.
  • Peel Region, which includes Mississauga and Brampton, is at 31.5 per cent for first doses among the elementary school-aged children. But it is up to 2.8 per cent for second doses.

Early research indicates the Omicron variant of concern might cause milder illnesses and less severe health outcomes than its predecessors. In the short run, the record-high case counts that are leading to more health-care workers self-isolating is leading hospitals to plan to postpone some treatments.

The Ontario Ministry of Education is also suspending reporting of COVID-19 cases in publicly funding schools, meaning that cohorts might not be dismissed if a student has COVID-19. Families are expected to screen and isolate if a child shows symptoms.

While Omicron might come in fast and furious before fizzling, a counter-argument to calls for opening schools is that a delayed start would buy time for more children to get a first or second dose. It would also allow educational workers and teachers to receive their third. It would also allow more time to pass out or install HEPA filters and N95 masks.

“We’re set up to be mass infected over the next several days, and we don’t have the health supports in order to be able to deal with that,” Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto, said in an interview on CBC Metro Morning on Friday.

Furness suggested that Ontario should hold off on returning to in-person learning until Jan. 24.

Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and certain areas of British Columbia are not letting children return to school until at least Jan. 10. Quebec is also holding off until at least Jan. 17.

Hamilton having lower first-dose coverage but higher second-dose coverage than other public health precincts do among younger children may also be part of trend. The same pattern has also occurred in other age groups in the last several months, since most adults became eligible to receive a jab.

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