Toronto to launch info campaign for parents ahead of child COVID-19 vaccinations

By Holly McKenzie-Sutter

Toronto Public Health is rolling out resources to help parents of young children prepare for the approval of COVID-19 shots.

The city’s top doctor says clinics for children aged five to 11 are being considered at mass vaccination sites, community clinics and schools.

Dr. Eileen De Villa says she’s hopeful vaccines will be approved for that age group in the coming weeks and the city is in planning mode with partners at pharmacies, hospitals, doctors’ offices and schools.

The city is also launching a toolkit for parents and guardians to share reliable information about COVID-19 vaccination and address questions about the shots.

De Villa says the city will be running town halls and information sessions for parents in the coming weeks.

Her comments came days after Pfizer-BioNTech asked Health Canada to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 — a request the regulator has said it will prioritize reviewing.

Shots can be offered to that age group once the regulator gives the green light.

De Villa says vaccination of children is a well-established practice that has become “clouded” through social media during the pandemic.

“It is important that those with questions are able to get reliable answers to them to fully understand the protection that comes with vaccination,” she said at a Wednesday news conference. “The vaccination of children aged five to 11 is safe, protective and necessary.”

De Villa said while it’s typically true that children don’t experience COVID-19 illness the same way adults do, “it is not guaranteed,” citing figures from Alberta that showed intensive care admissions among children had risen by 23 per cent since last month.

She also noted that infections among children can spread to others who are vulnerable to severe illness.

“If you have a child who will become eligible for vaccination in the coming weeks, please get them vaccinated,’ she said.

“You are protecting them, you are protecting your family and yourself and you are protecting grandparents and elders who could become sick.”