Canada’s top medical advisory group has strengthened its recommendation for parents to follow through with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11, with at least eight weeks between doses.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says research on vaccine success against the fast-spreading Omicron variant has been released in Ontario, the U.S., Japan and South Korea, showing booster doses for adults are effective. Not only do vaccines reduce the risk of severe illness, they decrease risk of contracting the virus by as much as 60 per cent, Henry said.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has also reviewed results for children under 12, now that millions of kids around the world have received child-sized doses of messenger RNA vaccines. The huge spike in Omicron infections has pushed up the number of children admitted to hospital, but the vaccine is effective and also provides a base of protection for any future variants that may emerge, Henry said.
“I do want to assure parents who have already had their children vaccinated with their first dose that you will receive an invitation to book your second dose around the eight-week period,” Henry said Jan. 25. “Sometimes it’s a few days before or a few days after, but our system is working really well and you will get that invite.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the federal government has begun shipping its promised rapid tests, with B.C. now expected to receive about 10 million, with close to one million arriving this week. Rapid test kits are being sent to replenish supplies at hospitals and care homes to test symptomatic staff and all visitors, and more are reserved to resupply K-12 schools, as well as businesses and organizations using testing to keep running, Dix said.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is providing rapid tests for colleges and universities to test staff and students with symptoms, and 250,000 rapid test kits are allocated for child care operators across B.C., once the amount and timing of promised shipments are clarified by Health Canada, Dix said Jan. 25.
For information about how rapid tests fit in child care settings, child care providers are invited to join a virtual information session, hosted by the Ministry of Children and Family Development tonight, Jan. 26, from 7-8:30 p.m. (Pacific time).
The meeting will be recorded and available on the Province’s YouTube page and linked to from B.C.’s child care health and safety web page for anyone unable to attend. Child care providers, parents and others can use the following login information to virtually attend or by phone:
By phone: 1 778 907-2071
Webinar ID: 664 1755 7482
Second-dose invitations for children five to 11 began this week, and the province’s booster dose program for those 12 and up continues “full steam ahead,” Dix said. There were 350,000 booster doses administered last week, and there are now 644,000 people who have received an invitation to book a booster shot and have not yet done so.
B.C. health authorities continue to operate scheduled appointment COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the province for residents age five and older. Registration and booking appointments in B.C. can be done online here, or by calling 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.