COVID-19 Update from Ottawa Public Health

COVID-19 vaccinations for five to 11-year-olds  

First doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be available to 77,000 eligible children ages five to 11 living in Ottawa, within four weeks of the vaccine authorization and delivery.  The plan will come into effect after Health Canada authorizes the vaccine for this age group and the Province of Ontario delivers the vaccine supply.  

Vaccine appointments for children ages five to 11 are not yet available. More information for this age group, including how to book appointments through the provincial booking system, will be coming soon. Clinic locations and hours will also soon be available at OttawaPublicHealth.ca/ChildCOVID19Vaccine. For more information, please consult OPH’s November 18 Public Service Announcement (PSA). 

November 18 – Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches 

We are turning another corner in our COVID-19 response as we anticipate approval for the vaccine for children aged five to 11 in the coming days. 

Earlier today, Ottawa Public Health released more details on the plan to vaccinate children in this age group. 

First, I want to address a question I have heard from many parents: should I get a COVID-19 vaccine for my child, or should I wait? 

My answer is this: Once the vaccine is approved for those aged five to 11, which we anticipate very soon, don’t wait. Only vaccines that are proven to be safe, effective and of high quality are authorized for use in Canada. 

COVID-19 rates are highest and growing in this age group in Ottawa right now, with introduction of COVID-19 into schools leading to disruption in learning and work for many families. 

Once approved for children five to 11, booking appointments will be done through the provincial booking system and not through Ottawa Public Health. Appointments for this age group are not yet available but we want parents and caregivers to know that this information is coming soon. 

When it comes to where your child can be vaccinated, a variety of options will be available. 

In addition to the currently operating community vaccine clinics, three more community clinics will begin operations to accommodate additional demand for COVID-19 vaccines once this age group is approved. More information on clinic locations can be found on our website. 

And, within the first week of receiving vaccine supply, Ottawa Public Health will open after-hours school pop-up vaccination clinics at different schools over four weeks. The after-school pop-up clinics will have capacity to immunize up to 10,000 children per week. A total of 73 after-hours school pop-up vaccination clinics will operate on a staggered schedule over four weeks across the city to make getting the vaccine easier for children and their families who may not be able to use the provincial booking system or travel to a community clinic. 

And, families may bring their children at the same time if they make an appointment for one child. 

Now, to parents and caregivers: I want to assure you that no child will be given a vaccine without your consent. Parents know their children best and our role is to provide the information required for them to make an informed decision. We do recommend that anyone that is eligible to get a vaccine do so. 

School clinics will be held after school hours and no child will be given a vaccine without parental consent. We understand that parents will have questions about the vaccine. Please visit our website for the most up to date information about the COVID vaccine for children. We are turning information parents shared with us into a frequently asked questions section with answers that will be fleshed out as we get the details from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization that is examining the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in context with the risks to children from COVID-19 infection. As well, our nurses will be available to answer your questions by phone or in school environments and at the vaccine clinics. 

For more information, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/ChildCOVID19Vaccine. 

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Ottawa, you have been exceptional when it comes to our vaccination rates. Currently, 88 per cent of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated. 

That deserves to be recognized. 

And while this number will go down temporarily as we expand eligibility, I have every confidence that our vaccine coverage rates will head right back up in the weeks and months following approval. 

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In recent weeks, Ottawa’s assessment centres and care clinics have seen a growing trend of residents seeking a COVID-19 test five or six days into experiencing symptoms. Opting out or delaying testing adds up to a growing risk of community spread of COVID-19 and added pressures on the health care system. 

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, do not wait a day or two days to see if your symptoms improve. Book a COVID-19 test immediately. 

Visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/CovidTesting to book an appointment to get tested as soon as possible. If a test is needed for a school-aged person, they are available in each school. 

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And lastly, I know many people have started thinking about the holidays and gathering with loved ones, myself included. While we are in a much different situation than we were this time last year, especially as we prepare to vaccinate younger children, I want to caution everyone to proceed with vigilance this holiday season. 

Assess the risk of those with whom you are gathering. Consider everyone’s vaccination status. If you choose to attend a larger gathering with others, maintain a physical distance and wear a mask when this might be difficult. Other things we can do include holding activities outdoors, and opening doors and windows every so often to increase ventilation. Information on safer gatherings can be found on our website. 

Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch.