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Province rolls out school vaccination program

More than 69 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 56 per cent have received a second dose, according to the province.

In Durham, 78.3 per cent of those aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose, and 66.8 per cent are fully vaccinated.

In order to continue the fight against COVID-19, the province will be working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to plan and host vaccination clinics in or nearby schools.

Clinics are expected to run before school starts and during the first few weeks of school.

“We have made tremendous progress getting students, staff and their families vaccinated – they are critical to protecting schools and keeping our communities safe,” says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

“By making vaccines more accessible, and with a cautious reopening in September following the expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we will further bolster our fight against COVID-19 and variants,” he adds.

While the vaccine continues to be voluntary for anyone eligible in Ontario, health experts encourage anyone who is able to get the vaccine as a highly effective tool in the fight against the virus.

The province says the education sector and public health units have played a critical role in getting youth vaccinated, and keeping students and families safe during the pandemic.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health says it is great news that students are returning to school and that kids and youth will finally be together with their classmates to learn and get back to activities they love.

“This is crucially important for their mental, physical and social wellbeing,” he says. “Having vaccination clinics at our schools will make it more convenient for students to receive their vaccine in a familiar and comfortable environment and will help to ensure a safer and sustained reopening of our schools.”

In terms of consent at school-focused clinics, the province says COVID-19 vaccines will only be provided if informed consent is received from the individual, including eligible students, and as long as they have the capability to make the decision.

Health care providers, the school and families must respect a young person’s decision regarding vaccination, says the province. Parents and guardians are encouraged to discuss vaccination with their children prior to attending a school vaccination clinic.