“Right in our wheelhouse”: Ottawa Public Health plans to administer COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 and older

OTTAWA — Ottawa Public Health is considering establishing school-based vaccination clinics to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 and older when they are eligible to receive the dose.

On Wednesday, Health Canada approved the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 years of age and older. Canada is now the first country in the world to approve the COVID-19 vaccine for school-aged children.

“It’s great news that Pfizer has been approved for younger age groups,” said Ottawa Medical Officer of Health Dr Vera Etches.

Etches said the Ontario government will decide when public health units can begin vaccinating children 12 and older.

“Locally, we’ve already had conversations with child healthcare providers to talk about the best way (to get the COVID-19 vaccine to children) and also with schools,” Etches said.

“School-based vaccination is one of the means by which public health traditionally immunizes people in this age category.”

On Thursday, eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine opens to all residents aged 50 and over in Ottawa, as well as elementary and secondary school teachers and staff.

“It is exactly in our wheelhouse of expertise where adolescent vaccination through school-based programs is the primary means by which public health ensures vaccination in a non-pandemic year,” said Dr. Trevor Arnason, Ottawa’s Deputy Medical Officer of Health.

“We are very well prepared for this.”

Dr. Arnason says it’s important that all residents get the COVID-19 vaccine, including children.

“When we’re talking about community immunity, of course, if you have an age group that’s still susceptible as we know, it’s much harder to get to a level where it’s not circulating. So that’s a good news from this front.”


Ottawa Public Health launched a new public awareness campaign on the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, to provide information to residents and address any hesitation in the community.

“There are resources now that we have people can share with friends and family, really answer questions about why you should get vaccinated,” Dr Etches said of the new campaign.

“What you can do while you wait for the vaccine to be ready and then what you can do after you get it.”

For more information, visit https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/community-immunity.aspx

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