Hamilton kids aged 5 to 11 can walk in at 2 mass vaccination clinics


Published January 10, 2022 at 8:43 pm

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson is Hamilton's medical officer of health. (YouTube/Cable 14)

Two of Hamilton’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics are now taking walk-in appointments for younger children, another age group where the city has a stalled uptake.

Hamilton’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, detailed the change during a media briefing on Monday. Walk-ins for children aged five to 11 are now available at both the Centre at Barton (1241 Barton St. E., by The Brick and the Giant Tiger) at the Mountain vaccine clinic at the Lime Ridge mall (999 Upper Wentworth St.). The change comes as the number of active cases in the city has swelled to over 9,000.

“This is being done in order to make vaccines as accessible as they can be,” Richardson said.

Pediatric doses are also available at other public vaccination sites on a rotating basis. Approximately 41.2 per cent of Hamilton children in that younger age group have received at least one dose. That is below the provincial rate of 47 per cent, which appears to follow a pattern of stalled uptake that Hamilton has seen when a new group becomes vaccine-eligible.

“We look it at with concern when we know the rates have slowed,” Richardson said. “They slowed right after the first couple of weeks when we opened to vaccinations in that group. We are very pleased that we are at that 40 per cent mark. We often get to the 40 per cent mark and then slow down.

“… When we look at a vaccine rate this low, we know it is a more broader hesitancy piece that we are seeing in terms of people deciding to come forward,” she added. “We are very much working with all of our health system partners, all of the community partners, to make sure there is information to talk through issues. We know Sick Kids (hospital, in Toronto) has a vaccine clinic hotline that they can call and get further information about the shot. All sorts of resources are available to help people think things through.”

‘Next step’

Ontario had 368 ongoing outbreaks in school and childcare settings as of late last month. That representing almost 21 per cent of the total school or child-care associated outbreaks in the second half of 2021, according to Public Health Ontario.

Individually, a healthy young child is relatively safe from the severest outcomes from the virus, although two Ontario children under age 10 have died within the last week. But the public statistics make it clear that high share of outbreaks are associated with schools.

Nearby Toronto “urgently” announced last week that it will hold 27 school clinics for children and education staff in order to support a safer school reopening.

Richardson indicated that a fourth dose campaign for higher-risk groups will get the highest priority in Hamilton, followed by school clinics at a later date.

“The next step, once we get through those fourth doses for (people in) highest-risk settings, will be looking at school clinics,” “We have seen that, for that age group, that that can help to bring up immunization rates.

“But I think it’s going to continue to be a time and a committment (factor) in terms of relationships and building trust, as well experience with the vaccine. This is an age group that hasn’t seen severe illness, so people think that they do have time before they make a decision.”

A dedicated vaccine clinic for education workers has also opened at the Centre on Barton.

Schools in both publicly funded Hamilton school boards are scheduled to be on remote learning until at least Jan. 17.

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