The roll out for the COVID-19 vaccination of children aged five to 11 in the region has begun, but no approval has been given to offer vaccinations through School District No. 8 schools.
The Interior Health Authority announced recently in a blanket press release that public health COVID-19 vaccination clinics for children (aged five to 11) have had “overwhelmingly positive” response from families.
In August it was confirmed by SD8 superintendent of schools Trish Smillie that the vaccine would not be part of the school district’s mandate this year for anyone over or under the age of 12. Vaccinations fall into the realm of public health, she said.
“At this point, public health is encouraging all people aged 12 and older to become fully vaccinated,” said Smillie at the time.
The vaccinations are being offered in clinics at the Nelson Health Unit on Victoria Street.
BC Education Deputy Minister Scott Macdonald said clinics would not be happening in schools during school time.
“If that ever changes, please remember, like any other vaccine program that has taken place in schools, parents will always be notified for consent for any vaccination that may be offered,” Macdonald said in the statement.
At the elementary school level, a child will never be given a vaccination without a parent’s prior approval, the minister said.
But there have been an estimated10,000 scheduled appointments for children between the ages of five and 11 across the IHA region since the vaccine was first offered on Dec. 10.
Dr. Sue Pollock, interim chief medical health officer with the IHA, said the vaccine for children was effective and safe.
“Clinical trials show the COVID-19 vaccine is 91 per cent effective against preventing COVID-19 infections, and even better for preventing severe illness and hospitalization,” she said in a release, adding that no severe reactions were detected during clinical trials.
Before the start of the school year in Septemberthe provincial health officer along with the Ministry of Education released their Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines — which every B.C. school district must adhere to under the School Act — and mandated that all people, including and below Grade 4, to wear a mask or face shield indoors (in class) and on school buses.
The masks were deemed necessary to help stop the spread of the virus, said Smillie at the time.
“It is important students do not have restrictions to their breathing and if they feel this is happening, it is important that they tell an adult,” she said.