Ontario health official doubts vaccination requirements will ever be extended to children ages 5-11

Ontario’s top public health official says it would “put the cart before the horse” to extend vaccination requirements to children ages five to 11, as COVID-19 vaccines have only recently been approved for use in the age group.

All individuals 12 years of age and older must present a vaccination certificate to gain entry to some Ontario non-essential facilities.

But right now, children under 12 are exempt from the policy, which predates Health Canada’s approval of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine.

At a briefing on Thursday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore asked if the proof of vaccination requirement could eventually be expanded to include younger children, but he said further research would be needed for that to happen.

It should be noted that clinical trial data showed that Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine was 90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children, while causing no serious side effects.

“We will review the science and benefits over time because it is a new vaccine and we are one of the first countries to adopt this vaccine for this age. But we need time to review it before it becomes available.” ever part of a mandate,” Moore said. “I think that’s putting the cart before the horse.”

At this time, unvaccinated Ontarians aged 12 and older cannot, among other things, dine at a restaurant, attend a sporting event, or go to the movies.

But children between the ages of five and 11, a group of about a million Ontarians, can do all those things without asking for a vaccination certificate. Vaccines for that age group only became available to the general population yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, Moore said individual companies can still make a separate government decision to require younger customers to be fully vaccinated as well.

However, when it comes to a countywide demand, the chief medical officer of health seemed to suggest he doesn’t see it happening “at all.”

“The big difference (with individuals 12 and older) is the time we’ve had and the breadth of science and study of the vaccine and its benefits in those age groups.” he said. “We have good science for the 12 to 17 years, we established its safety, efficacy and benefits and that is why it was included in the vaccine certification process. We just need to build that scientific basis of the (pediatric) vaccine. It’s new, it takes time, and we’ll build the science to support its implementation. But it’s a brand new rollout, so I honestly don’t see its integration into the verification process at all.”

Moore’s comments on Thursday come as the rollout of school-aged children’s vaccination kicks into high gear after only a few hundred doses were delivered on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ontario health officials have said about 100,000 school-age children have already been booked to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at mass immunization sites.

Public health units will also run hundreds of clinics in schools.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, NDP leader Andrea Horwath said the most important thing right now is to get children vaccinated “as soon as possible”.

But she said she believes the government should eventually extend vaccination requirements to the age group.

“Not only do I believe that children should be vaccinated, but I think it should be on the list of required vaccinations in school,” she said.

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