More than a third of Ottawa kids booked for COVID-19 shots amid jump in school outbreaks

Parents in Ontario and Saskatchewan can start booking first dose appointments and a process is already underway in other provinces. Jamie Mauracher has more on the latest vaccination efforts for mini-Canadians.

Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says she’s encouraged by the flurry of COVID-19 vaccination appointments booked for kids in the first day of eligibility for those aged five to 11, but expressed concern Wednesday about the jump in new outbreaks affecting elementary schools.

Etches said Wednesday that more than 27,000 first-dose appointments have already been booked for kids in the city in the first 24 hours bookings were open.

She told reporters during a press conference that those bookings — including appointments she set up for her own sons — are between this Friday and around Dec. 6, with an additional 33,000 slots open through Dec. 23.

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There are some 77,000 kids in this cohort in Ottawa.

“This means that about a third of children will have the protection that even a first dose provides before the holidays,” Etches said.

That’s becoming increasingly important as COVID-19 outbreaks hit elementary schools in the city hard.

As of Wednesday, 19 elementary schools are now in an active outbreak, a figure that had held steady below 10 for a number of weeks.

While the average number of cases per outbreak in schools remains relatively low, Etches said the trend is enough to raise concern.

“That does seem like a significant increase,” Etches said. “This is the population most unimmunized and it’s where we’re seeing the greatest number of outbreaks.”

Ottawa’s top doctor advised parents of multiple children to keep a close eye on symptoms and keep a full set of siblings home if one child is exhibiting signs of COVID-19 until a test result comes back.

Siblings transmitting the virus at home is affecting multiple cohorts in a school and leading to outbreaks, she said.

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Meanwhile, Ottawa Public Health reported 32 new cases of the virus and one death related to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The number of active cases in the city dropped to 303.

There are now 14 people in hospital locally with the virus, though no COVID-19 patients are currently in the intensive care unit.

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