Dr Kieran Moore noted on Tuesday that classes in Ontario schools, as well as many colleges and universities, are expected to resume in less than two months, with the goal of organizing more classes and extracurricular activities in nobody.
People will need to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine before the start of the school year to be fully protected, and Moore noted that vaccine uptake is lower among young people than among older Ontarians.
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“They’re the most social, they’re the most capable of spreading the virus in communities,” Moore said of the high school and college demographics.
He highlighted the situation in England, where the virus is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated youth, and said Ontario is also seeing “gaps” among young adults when it comes to immunization.
“Time is running out now as our schools are planning to reopen completely in the fall,” Moore said.
Moore said about 83% of COVID-19 cases reported between May 15 and June 12 were in unvaccinated people, 15% were partially vaccinated, and just over 1% were fully vaccinated.
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In Ontario, 78 percent of Ontario adults have at least one dose of a vaccine and 46 percent are fully immunized.
Immunization coverage is higher among older Ontarians and the rate is slightly lower than that of young adults.
Sixty-eight percent of the population aged 18 to 29 received their first dose and 66 percent of those aged 12 to 17 received their first injection.
Moore’s “call to arms”, as he described it, came a day after the province began offering Ontarians aged 12 and older the option of scheduling a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a interval of less than four months.
This means that everyone eligible for vaccination in the province can now receive their vaccines as early as four weeks apart, depending on the type of vaccine and if the supply permits.
Widespread immunization is a key aspect of Ontario’s plan to resume classroom learning in the fall – although full details of the plan have not been released. The province has promised all students and education workers will be offered two injections before September and youth-focused clinics were held last month and this week to get young people vaccinated.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said this week that high vaccination rates in the community will help reduce transmission and protect students under the age of 12, for whom no vaccines have currently been approved in the Canada, when classes resume.
Moore said the province saw interest in vaccination drop slightly after the long weekend and that it aimed to maintain its messages on vaccination.
Ontario reported 164 new cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths from the virus on Tuesday, as well as 80 previously unrecognized cases in 2020.
Public health restrictions on businesses and gatherings have gradually receded in light of positive public health trends, but Moore said the situation can change quickly.
“To maintain our progress, we need to see continuous improvement in vaccinations throughout the summer and fall,” he said.
© 2021 The Canadian Press