Less than 20% of kids fully vaccinated at many Hamilton schools


Published March 2, 2022 at 11:45 pm

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While looking for light at the end of the tunnel near the two-year mark of COVID-19 protections in Ontario is understandable, school vaccination data in Hamilton shows several areas of the city have a ways to go to keep children and education workers safe.

School-by-school vaccination data is updated by the City of Hamilton at the end of each month. As of the latest report, Hamilton has 14 elemenary schools where it is estimated that fewer than 20 per cent of students have had two doses of vaccine against COVID-19 and are considered fully vaccinated. Another six schools’ estimated full uptake is between 20 and 21.3 per cent.

New Testament, a private school, said only 9.1 per cent of its students have had a first dose. The lowest two-dose coverage in the four public boards is at Richard Beasley Jr. Public School on the East Mountain. Only 9.3 per cent of Beasley pupils are believed to have had two doses, with 29.1 having had a first dose.

Those estimates may be underreported due to inability to access or link vaccination records. But they also don’t include the 2017-birthdate children in junior kindergarten, who cannot receive their first jab until their fifth birthday.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, students across Ontario and in Hamilton have lost more days of in-person learning than their peers in every other jurisdiction of Canada and the United States. Cross-referencing school vaccination data from the city with absence rates for staff and students that public schools report to the province each day suggests the schools that are in the bottom-20 for uptake have more people away than those in the top-10.

Public schools in Ontario report the combined absence rate of students and staffs members to the province each day. It is not required of private schools. On Monday and Tuesday, public schools in the bottom 20 for two-dose coverage reported absence rates of 7.1 to 18.9 per cent. Only two of the 14 schools that reported were under 10 per cent on both days (Feb. 28 and March 1).

School Board Full 1 Dose Feb. 28 Mar. 1
New Testament Private 9.1 9.1 n/a n/a
Richard Beasley Jr PS HWDSB 9.3 29.5 18.9 16.6
Bellstone Christian Private 11.9 22.0 n/a n/a
Literacy and Mathematics Academy Private 12.9 22.6 n/a n/a
Cairn Christian Stoney Creek Private 13.9 18.1 n/a n/a
Central PS HWDSB 14.3 32.3 10.8 11.3
Westwood ES HWDSB 15.8 32.4 12.3 13.4
Holbrook ES HWDSB 19.0 33.7 8.1 7.1
Parkdale School HWDSB 19.0 39.5 12.1 9.9
Rosedale ES HWDSB 19.0 46.1 12.0 14.4
Dr. J. Edgar Davey ES HWDSB 19.4 36.7 15.9 16.4
Grandview Adventist Private 19.5 36.6 n/a n/a
Lake Avenue PS HWDSB 19.7 36.5 12.6 13.7
Buchanan Park ES HWDSB 19.8 38.5 12.1 11.6
Christadelphian Heritage College Private 20.0 30.0 n/a n/a
Prince of Wales ES HWDSB 20.2 34.2 18.9 18.6
ÉÉ Pavillon de la Jeunesse CS Viamonde 20.6 35.0 7.3 7.6
St. Ann (Hamilton) CES HWCDSB 21.1 38.0 14.6 10.1
Islamic School of Hamilton Private 21.2 40.9 n/a n/a
Queen Victoria ES HWDSB 21.3 40.1 13 12.2

The absence rates do not show the degree to which COVID-19 would have affected a single school’s reporting. It is widely believed that COVID-19 cases in Ontario are significantly undercounted due to a lack of available polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

There are Hamilton elementary schools that reported higher absence rates early this week than their counterparts on the above list. On Monday, elementary schools that are obligated to report had absence rates from 6 to 12.2 per cent. The range was between 5.9 and 11 per cent on Tuesday.

The absence rates, on top of not tracking COVID-19, also elide another key variable. Socioeconomic aspects that are unique to each school’s community would also affect whether a family could afford child-care options that would enable them to keep one child or more out of school for the day, or have a caregiver take a sick day from their job.

Ontario, alone among Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, has not signed on to a federal child-care deal that is geared to reduce child-care costs to $10 per day by 2025.

In any event, it appears more people were present at schools where about two-thirds or more of the chldren have had a second dose. Kehila Jewish Community Day School has the highest full-vaccination uptake at 83.3 per cent. In the public boards, ÉIC Mère-Teresa, a French-language Catholic school, is at 79.4 per cent. (Those rate stats do not include enrolment sizes.)

School Board Full 1 Dose Feb. 28 Mar. 1
Kehila Jewish CDS Private 83.3 94.4 n/a n/a
ÉIC Mère-Teresa MonAvenir 79.4 82.2 8.9 11.0
Lee Academy Private 76.8 86.3 n/a n/a
Ryerson Middle School HWDSB 73.3 82.7 12.2 10.0
Sir William Osler ES HWDSB 71 83.0 9.5 8.3
Dalewood Middle School HWDSB 69.9 81.4 9.9 8
Dundas Central PS HWDSB 69.5 84.6 8.9 7.1
Westview ES HWDSB 66.8 72.3 6.8 6.8
St. Ann (Ancaster) CES HWCDSB 66.2 81.0 9.8 5.9
Frank Panabaker South PS HWDSB 64.7 76.4 6.0 7.0

Across Hamilton, 30.2 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 have had two doses of the vaccine. And 51.7 per cent have had at least one dose, which lags behind the Ontario-wide rate, which is 12th out of the 13 provinces and territories.

There is not yet a consensus on how COVID-19 affects children. However, in the United Kingdom, the Office of National Statistics recently presented research that suggested that children might be more affected by COVID-19, in particular with long COVID, than previously believed.

In the U.K., though, masking has not been consistently required in schools.

Earlier this week, the Children’s Health Coalition, of which McMaster Children’s Hospital is a member, called for masking to remain in indoor school settings. A statement from the CHC said masking would help prevent children from unknowingly passing the virus at home to unvaccinated siblings, parents or community members.

“Masking in indoor school settings protects children and their families,” the CHC wrote on Monday. “As soon as the evidence suggests otherwise, then alternatives can be considered.”

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that children under 18 wait eight weeks between their first and second dose of the vaccines. This is drawn from evidence in adults that indicates longer intervals between doses results in a stronger immune response and higher, likely more enduring vaccine effectiveness. The interval may be associated with a lower risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis.

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