Ontario Premier Doug Ford Says He Understands Parents Reluctant To Vaccinate Their Young Children For COVID-19 As His Government Reviews Vaccination Plans For Children Aged 5-11 prior to Health Canada’s planned approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for this group.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday at an Ottawa technology and shopping center, Ford said he would leave the decision to parents. Opposition leaders and health experts have called on the province to add COVID-19 to the existing list of mandatory school vaccinations in Ontario, which includes measles, mumps, polio and chickenpox.
“I’m going to leave that to the parents, as far as the five to 11-year-olds are concerned. Do we want them vaccinated? Yes. But there are parents who are vaccinated, they hesitate a little at five or six years. I understand, ”said Ford. “So let’s do our best. … I also understand if they do not want to vaccinate their five or six year old child. Do I want everyone to do this? One hundred percent. “
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Mr Ford’s government has come under fire for failing to release a plan to immunize the province’s children before approval by Health Canada, with opposition NDP warning of a repeat of the scramble that marred the deployment of adult vaccines in the province.
Health Minister Christine Elliott told the Legislature on Tuesday that the government was reviewing childhood immunization plans developed by the province’s 34 local public health units.
Reluctance to vaccinate around children is expected to be a challenge for public health officials. A recent Angus Reid poll suggested that only about half of Canadian parents with elementary-age children would get their children immunized immediately. Almost one in five said they would eventually get their children immunized, but not right away.
The prime minister also said on Tuesday that he had not made a decision on whether to order mandatory vaccinations for health workers, which opposition leaders are demanding, the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Table from the province and other health experts. Mr Ford said some hospitals had yet to respond to an open letter he sent on Oct. 15 asking if a vaccination warrant would lead to a staff shortage. The letter requested a response by October 19.
He said he didn’t want hospitals, especially in rural areas and northern Ontario, to lose staff and fall behind in efforts to tackle pending surgeries delayed by the pandemic. He also said he had yet to receive estimates on how many healthcare workers should quit instead of getting vaccinated. His concerns are not just about the departure of doctors or nurses, but also cleaning staff and other support workers, he added.
“I’m still waiting for answers, to be very frank with you,” Ford said.
Several prominent organizations responded to the Premier’s letter, including the Ontario Hospital Association, which represents the province’s 140 public hospitals. Last week, he called on the province to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all hospital staff. The Ontario Medical Association and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario have also called for mandatory vaccination of health care workers.
Ford also said on Tuesday that once Ontario hits a 90 percent vaccination rate, it will have to go ahead and reopen, but with caution. (In Ontario, 87.9% of eligible residents over the age of 12 have at least one first dose, of which 83.9% are fully vaccinated.) He released a schedule last week that could see the rules relaxed for boxes. nightclub and other high-risk businesses in November, with the phase-out of the province’s vaccine certificate requirements for restaurants starting in mid-January.
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