Province set up 400 school-focused clinics to improve access to vaccines for school-aged children and education staff with more to come
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, issued a joint statement in response to Ontario’s ongoing work in promoting vaccination for students:
“Vaccines remain our best defence against the Omicron variant, including for eligible school-aged children.
Up to 400 school-focused vaccination clinics have been held across Ontario. By January 30, we anticipate another 184 clinics will have been held at schools to support safe and convenient access to vaccines for children and youth. This province-wide campaign to increase vaccination rates builds upon enhanced measures, including rapid tests, non-fit-tested N95 and three-ply masks, and ventilation improvements. These efforts are supported by $1.6 billion in resources available to school boards as they respond to COVID-19.
We have taken these steps because our government recognizes that in-person learning is critical to the mental health, development and academic success of children and youth. We want to assure parents, students, teachers and staff that we are doing everything possible to protect in-person learning.”
The current vaccination rates among children aged 12 to 17 are encouraging, with 83 per cent having received two doses. Of children aged five to 11, more than 51 per cent have received their first dose of the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and more will be done to support vaccination, which is why Ontario launched school-focused vaccine clinics.
Up to 400 school-focused vaccine clinics were stood-up by the local public health units (PHUs) in November and December. In January 2022, additional targeted clinics will take place during instructional hours in schools selected by local PHUs and school boards. Schools boards and PHUs will work together to communicate timely information about these local school-based clinics, as well as providing information packets and consent forms to parents ahead of planned school-based vaccine clinics.
These clinics are in addition to many options available to families, including through mass vaccination clinics, pharmacies and through primary care.
If parents have any concerns about vaccinations, they should speak to their family physician for advice. Parents and caregivers who have questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children and youth can also visit www.sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult or call toll-free at 1-888-304-6558 to book a confidential phone appointment with a SickKids clinician. The service is available in multiple languages using over-the-phone language interpretation.
Education and child care staff are eligible for accelerated access to the COVID-19 vaccine booster, through 10 clinics located across the GTHA, including clinics in Toronto, York Region, Halton, Hamilton, and Pickering as well as the Toronto Zoo. The clinics are operational seven days a week.