On the eve of COVID injections for children, epidemics in primary schools increase

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Children five to 11 years old have the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases of any age group.

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As children aged 5 to 11 prepare to start receiving COVID-19 vaccines this week, elementary schools in Ottawa are experiencing a growing number of outbreaks of the virus.

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Across the city, 19 elementary schools and one high school are experiencing ongoing epidemics, according to Ottawa Public Health.

Chapel Hill Catholic School in Orleans closed on Wednesday after seven students tested positive. Chapel Hill students have switched to online learning from home, and Ottawa Public Health officials will visit the school on Friday to distribute take-home COVID-19 test kits.

Most of the outbreaks this year have been in elementary schools, where the majority of children are not vaccinated.

This is also reflected in the number of children under 12 who have contracted COVID-19 compared to other age groups.

Children five to 11 years old have the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases of any age group.

In Ottawa, children in this age group had a weekly COVID-19 rate of 58.9 per 100,000 population as of November 14, according to Ottawa Public Health. The second highest rate was found in children zero to four years old with a rate of 32.5.

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The rates in people over 12, who are eligible for vaccination, are considerably lower. Youth aged 12 to 17 had a rate of 19.6, while the rate for those over 18 was 13.7.

This graph shows the weekly rates of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 by age group in Ottawa.  Ottawa Public Health data
This graph shows the weekly rates of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 by age group in Ottawa. Ottawa Public Health data jpg

In another comparison, children under the age of nine have the highest total number of new and active COVID-19 cases reported in Ottawa of all age groups, according to PHO.

Of the 303 active cases of COVID-19 reported in Ottawa on Wednesday, 78 have been in children nine and under.

At a press conference, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, urged parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated.

Etches attributed much of the recent increase in COVID outbreaks in schools to students from large families spreading the disease to their siblings, who then carry it to different cohorts and classrooms.

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“I would encourage everyone, if your child is showing symptoms, to take a test to make sure it is not COVID, and to stay home until we know it is not. ‘is not COVID,’ Etches said.

Vaccination reservations for children aged five to 11 opened on Tuesday, and the first vaccines in Ottawa are expected to be delivered on Friday.

Over 60,000 appointments are initially available for the estimated 77,000 Ottawa children in this age group.

There is an eight week gap between the two doses, and children are not considered fully protected until two weeks after the second dose.

This means that many children will have some protection with a dose of the vaccine before the December holidays, but will not be fully immunized until February.

Meanwhile, parents in Niagara and Peterborough are being warned of misinformation spreading about COVID-19 vaccination clinics for children.

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The Niagara District School Board, in a social media post, said it had learned that “there was some misinformation being shared that children would be vaccinated at school without family consent. This is not true and it will not happen.

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In the Peterborough area, a school board has warned parents about misinformation circulating about vaccination clinics in schools, including false dates and times.

School clinics will be held after school and on weekends, not during school hours, administration of vaccines is voluntary and vaccines are not given without parental consent, a Twitter post from Peterborough said. Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board.

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