Uptake of COVID-19 vaccines for young children in Ontario is lower than experts expected

The number of children under the age of five being vaccinated against COVID-19 in Ontario is even lower than the relatively small number that many experts were expecting.

Injections for the youngest age group have been available for two months, but only about six percent of these children have received their first dose.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore said this was lower than the numbers he was expecting at the time.

“I definitely want more families to consider vaccinating their children between the ages of six months and four years,” he said in an interview, especially children at high risk.

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“We know we have a higher than five percent percentage of children with an underlying medical condition that could predispose them to a worse COVID-related outcome and would strongly encourage these parents to consider talking to their doctor about it.” to take risks and benefits.”

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Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa, said there are many factors at play that are likely to lead to low intake, but he still would have expected a higher number by now.

“I’m not surprised it’s that low, I’m surprised it’s that low,” he said.

Many people believe false narratives that the pandemic is over and that children will not get sick if they are infected with COVID-19, said Deonandan, who also pointed out misinformation about vaccine side effects.

The way messages about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are conveyed to parents is important, Deonandan said.

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“This needs to be phrased like this: ‘Parents, this is your decision and I want to give you all the transparent information I can to help you make a good choice here,'” he said.

“There’s a delicate balancing act here that we have to do when we talk about this. You don’t want to appear like you’re forcing something foreign into your child’s body, as we see that the population is very sensitive to these types of narratives. We don’t want to come across as fear mongers trying to force the world back into lockdown…. But at the same time, you just want to do something for the general health of children.”

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The city of Toronto pulled out a series of videos about COVID-19 vaccinations for children this week after one implied children couldn’t play with friends if they weren’t vaccinated.

“This video missed the point of this message and should not have been posted,” spokesman Brad Ross wrote in a statement.

“A series of five videos aimed at parents and carers about childhood vaccines have been paused while each is reviewed to ensure the messages are clear and unambiguous: vaccines are available for children and they are safe.”

Pediatricians are the ones parents should listen to now, Deonandan said.

“Nobody trusts the epidemiologists anymore,” he said. “They don’t trust the government’s doctors anymore. Nobody trusts the virologists anymore. They only trust their child’s pediatrician, and they’re the people who need to have that conversation.”

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Moore said the province hears from parents that one-on-one is the most effective means of communication.

“When you visit your GP, your pediatrician, you get your standard shots at two months, four months, six months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months — all of these are opportunities for families to ask questions about COVID vaccination,” he says.

“We still have a lot to do to continue our (official) message. It will accelerate as we go indoors and into the fall when we believe the risk of transmission will increase.”

dr Paul Roumeliotis, the health officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, said he hopes infant vaccination will accelerate by the fall, as he expected overall uptake to be about 25 to 30 percent.

He attributed the slow start to the start of rollout in the summer, misinformation about the vaccine, and general parental hesitancy about children of that age.

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“As a pediatrician, I know that parents are always hesitant – especially with younger children and babies – whether it’s a vaccine or a drug that comes out,” he said.

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“One of the messages we need to convey to people is that while this vaccine is not as effective as we would like for human-to-human transmission, it is certainly highly effective against serious diseases and their complications.”

dr Anna Banerji, a pediatrician, infectious disease specialist and associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said there was also a factor of complacency.

“(People think), ‘Oh, COVID isn’t that bad. It’s just a mild cold in young children, so I don’t have to worry about that,” she said.

“I think there’s a lot of denial that kids, especially younger kids, can get it and get very, very sick with it.”

Public Health Ontario said in its latest report that there was a notable increase in hospital admissions for infants under the age of one, with 17 children in the week of September 4-10 compared to eight the week before. Since the pandemic began, 1,268 children in this age group have been hospitalized for COVID-19 – a much higher rate than for older children and adolescents.

Children now have a pretty good chance of contracting COVID-19 now that schools are back up and running, and it’s not just the immediate and possible long-term effects on the young children themselves that parents should keep in mind, said Banerji.

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“(They) can also pass it on to other kids, can pass it on at home, can pass it on to grandparents,” she said.

“It’s something that could have a significant impact on someone’s life. And so I would do anything to reduce the risk of transmission, which is really a vaccine.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

https://globalnews.ca/news/9147771/covid-vaccine-uptake-young-ontario-children-lower-than-expected/ Uptake of COVID-19 vaccines for young children in Ontario is lower than experts expected


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: hung@interreviewed.com.

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