Ontario’s chief physician clarifies pediatric vaccine remarks

Seven-year-old Lorena Limdao gets her COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Kevin Evelyn of UHN, while twin sister Mabel and eleven-year-old brother William are waiting to receive theirs at a vaccine clinic in Jane and Finch Mall in Toronto on January 13.Chris Young / The Canadian Press

Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, withdrew remarks he made this week about COVID-19 vaccinations for children, after critics accused him of worrying parents who were hesitant about vaccinating and feeding conspiracy theorists. But some experts say the remarks were merely a repetition of the current position of the National Advisory Council on Immunization.

The controversy that led Ontario’s Liberal leader Steven Del Duca to urge Dr. Moore to clarify his statements or be fired was seen by some as the latest communication failure for the province as it struggles to deal with a massive wave of cases caused by Omicron variant, and seeks to encourage faster vaccination of both children and adults.

The province’s top doctor was asked on Wednesday why Ontario had not put it on Vaccine against covid-19 on the list of shots that students attending public schools must receive (or seek exemption from) that include measles, mumps, and other infectious diseases.

Despite the increase in admissions of children with COVID-19, the Omicron variant seems less severe

“It’s a new vaccine,” he replied. “And as a result, we would like to have more experience with it before we ever give it a mandate. And I do not think any jurisdiction in Canada has ordered the vaccine to date. I would always like to see a higher record of vaccines. “

Dr. Moore went on to urge parents to move on and give their children a shot, which he called safe and effective.

Sir. Del Duca, along with opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwath, seized on the remarks. Sir. Del Duca, who has previously called COVID-19 vaccines to be added to those required in schools, said the comments played into the hands of people spreading misinformation. Ms. Horwath also called them worrisome, and another example of Premier Doug Ford’s tendency to “indulge in anti-waxxers.”

In his first response, Dr. Moore also that U.S. figures indicated that vaccination of children between the ages of five and 11 provided “significant protection against the rare risk of hospitalization in children.”

Within an hour, Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office issued a follow-up statement from Dr. Moore, who said the Pfizer pediatric vaccine is “safe, effective and provides strong protection against COVID-19 and variants ”and encourages all children to get shots as soon as possible. This seemed to satisfy Mr Del Duca.

The next day, when asked about the problem by a reporter, Dr. Moore, one step further, withdrew his comments on the vaccine’s novelty, saying the reason Ontario has not added it to the list of required shots for schools is because of the burden. this would be placed on already strapped local public health units. He said the policy would be revised, “when things calm down.”

He also explained that Ontario’s current rules require parents to report their children’s vaccination status to school. Parents may refuse to give a child a vaccine, but must go through a process to obtain a dispensation that includes an education component.

“There is no vaccine that has become mandatory in Ontario,” said Dr. Moore.

Isaac Bogoch, a physician for infectious diseases with the Toronto University Health Network, said there was nothing inaccurate about Dr. Moore’s original statement and that it was in line with NACI’s current position.

A November statement from NACI says the Pfizer vaccine, approved for ages five to 11, “can be offered” to children.

“Given the short-term uncertainty surrounding pediatric vaccination at present, children and their parents or guardians should be supported and respected in their decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations for the child, whatever decisions they make, and they should not be stigmatized for accepting. , or do not accept, the vaccination offer, ”it reads.

The statement too notes that young people are far less likely than older people to suffer from severe COVID-19 disease and that children should be monitored for any occurrence of rare side effects after receiving a dose.

The stress of the pandemic has made it difficult to nuance debates on almost every issue related to COVID-19, said Dr. Bogoch.

“Every single parent in a province with 14 million is watching, so you have to be very careful with your words. And maybe it could have been worded better.” Despite Dr. Moore’s comments that kicked off a storm on social media, “the content was not wrong. … This was blown completely out of proportion, ”said Dr. Bogoch.

Martha Fulford, MD for infectious diseases at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton and associate professor at McMaster University, said any step to require a COVID-19 vaccine for schooling should take into account the lower risk children are exposed to by the disease and the fact, that vaccines are no longer considered as effective as once thought against transmission. Many European countries have not even offered the shots widely to younger children, she noted.

Basically, Dr. The Moore NACI document, she said. “To quote the National Advisory Committee on Immunization Guidelines and then be criticized for it – that’s a little weird.”

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