As Ontario readies plan to vaccinate younger children, Ford says he understands some parents are hesitant
Published Tuesday, October 26, 2021 3:57PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 26, 2021 4:49PM EDT
As the provincial government works to finalize its plan to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 5 and 11, Premier Doug Ford says he understands that some parents with younger children are hesitant about immunizing their kids.
"I'm going to leave that up to the parent when it comes to five to 11-year-olds. Do we want to get them vaccinated? Yes. But there are some parents that are vaccinated, they are a little hesitant at the age of five or six. I get it," Ford said at a news conference in Kanata on Tuesday afternoon.
"So let's do our best and get as many people vaccinated. And I also understand if they don't want to get their five-year-old or six-year-old vaccinated. Do I want everyone to? 100 per cent."
A recent survey published by Angus Reid suggests that many parents in Canada remain hesitant about vaccinating younger children.
According to the survey, only about 51 per cent of parents plan to immediately vaccinate their children when a pediatric dose is approved for use in the country.
Public health experts have spent the past several weeks outlining the benefits of vaccinating younger children but urge parents who are hesistant to seek out trusted sources of information to answer questions they may have.
“If you have a child who will become eligible for vaccination in the coming weeks, please get them vaccinated," Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, said earlier this month.
"You are protecting them, you are protecting your family and yourself and you are protecting grandparents and elders who could become sick and be at risk.”
Pfizer-BioNtech formally requested approval for its pediatric COVID-19 vaccine from Health Canada earlier this month and the application is currently under review.
“As with all COVID-19 vaccines, the department will prioritize the review of this submission, while maintaining its high scientific standards for safety, efficacy and quality,” Health Canada said in a statement.
Canada has already signed a deal with Pfizer for pediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The premier also said Tuesday that the province isn't relying on children getting immunized in order to reach its vaccination targets.
But a report published by Public Health Ontario in August said achieving herd immunity against the novel coronavirus would be impossible without vaccinating children under 12.
“The critical threshold for vaccination is now estimated to be at least 90% of the Ontario population, and over 100% of the vaccine-eligible population,” Public Health Ontario said in its report.
About 84 per cent of eligible Ontario residents are fully immunized and about 88 per cent have at least one dose. Children under the age of 12 make up more than 10 per cent of the province's population.
During Question Period on Tuesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is still finalizing its plan for vaccinating children five to 11.
"We are in regular contact with the federal government as to when they expect that Health Canada will be able to complete their review and allow for it to proceed," she said.
Elliott said individual public health units will be responsible for executing their own plan for the rollout.
"We will be ready to go as soon as this has been approved by Health Canada. We have already been in touch with the chief medical officers of health in the 34 Ontario regions. We have their plans," she said.
"The plans differ according to the various units, depending on what’s available, but we are reviewing their plans right now and making sure that in all 34 of those regions, they will be ready to go as soon as the vaccine is approved."
-With files from The Canadian Press