As COVID-19 cases climb in local kids MLHU wants to vaccinate 5-11 year olds
The province has been alerted to a significant rise in COVID-19 cases detected among children in London and Middlesex County.
An analysis by the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) determined that 42 cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed among individuals aged five to 17 during the second week of September.
There was only one case detected in that age group during the same week last year.
“The Delta variant is really a game-changer with regard to children and youth. It is showing up way more heavily in that population,” explains Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie.
The pediatric incidence rate has reached 43 cases per 100,000 for kids five to 11 years old, 42 per 100,000 aged 12-17.
Mackie says the rise began in August, and is not related to transmission in schools.
The weekly COVID-19 incidence rate by episode date in those ages 0-11 and 12-17 are seen in this graph provided by the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
With the cause still undetermined, the MLHU notified the province, “We alerted the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario about what we are seeing locally. We have asked that COVID-19 vaccines be included in the Immunization of School Pupils Act.”
Kids who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 92 of the 102 pediatric cases reported so far in September.
Mackie says adding COVID-19 vaccination to the Immunization of School Pupils Act would encourage more parents to get their eligible children vaccinated.
Currently, that’s youth aged 12 and over in 2021 -- but Mackie is now asking that the eligible age be lowered.
“We’ve reached out to the federal government to ask that they expedite the approval of the vaccine in the five to eleven year old group,” he adds.
Meanwhile, demand for testing has significantly exceeded expectation since the return to school, requiring more staff at the Carling Heights Optimists Centre COVID-19 Assessment Centre.
“There is unfortunately a crunch right now in health human resources, so we may be reaching out to other partners to help out there,” Mackie explains.
Despite pediatric case counts higher than expected, Mackie believes the limited transmission occurring in schools is preventing the need to return to remote learning.
“Do we get there in a few months? It’s hard to say, but I don’t think it is something we should jump to quickly because of the COVID risk of being home.”