St. Catharines professor says government should add COVID-19 to designated disease list for schools

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Published October 21, 2022 at 12:22 pm

Brock University assistant professor Alison Braley-Rattai says the provincial government should add COVID-19 to the list of “designated diseases” in its Immunization of School Pupil Acts. (Photo: Brock University)

An Assistant Professor in Brock University’s Department of Labour Studies says children continue to be exposed to danger, given the government’s “You do you” stand on COVID-19 vaccinations.

Alison Braley-Rattai, researches both the moral and legal aspects, as well as the policy implications of childhood vaccinations, says several recent studies show “children’s susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 has been rising over the pandemic, increasing the possibility of severe outcomes.”

She compares the COVID-19 vaccines among Ontario children and says it’s relatively low compared to adults. She believe to increase vaccine uptake among younger residents, the provincial government should add COVID-19 to the list of “designated diseases” in its Immunization of School Pupil Acts.

Indeed, recent figures from Niagara Region Public Health (see below) bear her findings out.

The percentage of adults 18 year and older who’ve had their first doses in Niagara is 92.5 per cent. The same age group sees 90.6 per cent as having their second shot, which is still considered “fully vaccinated.”

However, for children aged five to 11, only 50 per cent have had their first shots while a mere 33 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Even high-school age young adults aged 12 to 17 have respectable 83.6 per cent first dose rates and 86.8 per cent second dose rates.

But vaccination alone is not enough, she says, adding COVID-19’s ability to mutate may make vaccination “increasingly less important than controlling infection itself.”

“Here’s the rub: It makes little sense to include COVID vaccines under designated diseases without other measures to reduce infections, like air quality standards, masking, and better testing and tracing,” says Braley-Rattai.

“Governments have abandoned the notion of public health for a ‘you do you’ approach which is, frankly, unconscionable given the long-term implications of infections for both individuals and society,” she says.

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