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Region’s top doc says more youth need to be vaccinated

Durham Region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Kyle, says 67 per cent of Durham Region youth aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

While Kyle says vaccination rates are moving in the right direction, he says he would like to see more youth get vaccinated over the summer months, before the start of school in September.

In order to improve access to vaccines for youth, residents 12 to 17 years of age and their unimmunized family members can receive a first dose of Pfizer at local immunization clinics offering Pfizer on a walk-in basis until July 19, without an appointment. Appointments are required for second doses.

As there must be a minimum of 28 days between first and second doses, Kyle says unimmunized youth are encouraged to get their first dose as soon as possible to allow time to receive a second dose prior to September.

Although youth are less likely to experience serious illness from COVID-19, Kyle says some younger people do get very ill, some require hospitalization, and some may experience serious long-term effects.

Younger people who experience mild symptoms may also spread COVID-19 to others who may get severely ill, Kyle adds.

Currently, vaccines are not approved for children younger than 12 years of age, which means that a large proportion of elementary school children cannot be vaccinated at this time.

“To support a safe and productive school year, in which students can enjoy in-person learning and time with their friends, I encourage all eligible youth to get vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them, including younger family members who are unable to be vaccinated,” says Kyle.

“Being fully vaccinated is our best protection against COVID-19.”

Kyle says some mild side effects from the vaccine are common and will resolve within a couple days, such as soreness of the arm where the vaccine was administered, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills, and mild fever; serious vaccine reactions are rare.

Kyle says it’s important that youth and families make an informed decision about getting vaccinated.

Credible sources include the Government of Canada Vaccines for COVID-19 web page; Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine safety web page; Public Health Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccines web page; and the Health Department’s COVID-19 Vaccines web page.

In an effort to improve access to vaccines for all residents, Kyle says adults 18 and older can receive a first dose of the Moderna vaccine at local immunization clinics offering Moderna on a walk-in basis until July 19, without an appointment. Appointments are required for second doses.

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