A segment of Hamilton’s population currently at the greatest risk of COVID-19 infections will soon have a chance to get their first shot of a vaccine to fight the affliction late this week.
Pfizer shots for the city’s estimated 42,000 children are set to hit Hamilton public health’s VERTO booking portal on Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., following the arrival of the first shipment in the city on Sunday night.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson told 900 CHML’s Hamilton Today it’s expected the city will get close to all the doses needed from the initial shipment to vaccinate Hamilton’s eligible population 5 to 11.
“We will certainly get enough to get all of them done with our clinics opening actually on Thursday,” Richardson said.
“You can start booking … your vaccine appointments tomorrow and then start … getting shots as early as Thursday.”
Settings for the shots will be through a number of different clinics, including fixed sites at Lime Ridge Mall and the Centre on Barton, child-friendly mobile clinics, pharmacies as well as youth friendly clinics.
“Kids at times can be scared of needles or may have some other apprehension,” said Richardson.
“So our partners at McMaster Children’s Hospital and their child life specialists are helping to provide some clinics that are particularly friendly for children who are having those kinds of anxieties as well.”
School-based clinics are not a part of the initial rollout for those 5 to 11 due to the complexity of such a campaign requiring parents and guardians to be present of the shots.
“That’s hard to accomplish during the school day when they’re still trying to carry on with education for our kids at the same time,” Richardson revealed.
“So likely what will happen over time is we’ll continue to look at how the schools fit into the plan.”
Health Canada has recommended a two-dose regiment administered three weeks apart for the Pfizer shot which has shown a 90.7 percent effectiveness rate in children 5 to 11 – similar to the effectiveness of the adult dosage.
Niagara Region’s rollout will hit similar venue’s as Hamilton through online bookings this week. An estimated 20,000 doses are expected in Niagara in the first week from the initial Canadian shipment.
The region has an estimated 32,500 aged 5 to 11 eligible for shots.
Acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji says the shots not only work but are showing in CDC studies that they have fewer side effect such as fatigue, headaches and muscle pain exhibited in adult shots.
The data comes from a multinational, placebo-controlled efficacy trial which showed children aged under 12 had significantly lower after effects compared to counterparts aged 16 to 25.
“Children are going to actually have an even better experience with a vaccine, get an even safer vaccine, but still get all of that protection,” Hirji said.
So far close to three million children have been immunized in the United States since the start of November.
Dr. Rachel Loewith, a family physician in Hamilton says the introduction of the shots are a key development in the pandemic as it will begin addressing an area of spread that has not been tapped by the medical community.
“While the individual risk to the average child is fairly low, we know from a societal impact and from trying to want to be around family members that there is a higher risk, especially heading into the winter months,” Loewith said.
“It’s really important to protect our children as best as we can so that they can do all those normal childhood activities that everybody wants to get back to.”
Hamilton public health is estimating that about 40 per cent of the child population will come out to get vaccinated in the next few weeks which would equate to about 16,000 doses.
The city says demand for the kids shots and booster doses will keep the city’s clinics and health partners busy through the holidays and in the first part of 2022. It’s expected the booster shots will be made available in January to anyone in the eligible 12-plus population who wants it.
As of last Monday, the city had administered an estimated 11,000 third doses which are currently recommended but not mandatory.
Close to 83% of eligible Hamiltonians 12-plus fully vaccinated
Over the weekend Hamilton’s health partners put just over 3,100 vaccine doses into arms, with Friday recording the largest intake over the last three days – 1,523 shots.
November’s average of 1,055 shots per day is slightly less than what was recorded for all of October, 1068, and farther behind September’s average of 1,488 per day.
As of Wednesday, 82.9 per cent of eligible Hamiltonians over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated while 86 per cent have had at least a single jab. The city is still behind the provincial average which sees 85.5 per cent fully vaccinated and 88.7 with at least one vaccine dose.
Residents aged 70 to 84 have reached the ministry of health’s target of 90 per cent first and second dose coverage, meanwhile Hamiltonians aged 25 to 29 represent the lowest vaccination rates of those eligible in the community at just 72.3 per cent fully vaccinated.
Public health estimates that about one in 10 Hamiltonians is being vaccinated outside of the city.
Hamilton is behind 31 other public health units in the percentage of two-dose vaccinations in Ontario.
Hamilton’s weekly COVID-19 case rate up slightly
Hamilton’s daily COVID-19 case rate has gone up slightly week over week with public health reporting a seven-day average case rate of 22 as of Monday, four higher than the daily average of 18 per day so far for all of November
The rate is on-par with the daily average recorded for October, also 22 cases per day.
Active cases were also up again from Friday’s 157 to the 181 reported Monday.
More than 64 per cent of all active cases are in people under the age of 50, while 43 per cent are under 30.
Since the pandemic started in March of 2020, Hamilton has reported 25,621 COVID cases.
There are ten reported outbreaks tied to 63 total cases across the city as of Nov. 21. The largest is at St. Peter’s Hospital which has 18 total cases — four among staff and 14 among patients.
Outbreaks at schools include cases at three public entities and two private facilities.
The largest is with the Catholic school board’s St. Gabriel Elementary on Barton Street in Stoney Creek which has 12 student cases and one with a staffer.
In the last 14 days, both public boards combined have reported 48 cases with 41 among students.
Hospitals in Hamilton are reporting a total of 18 COVID patients as of Monday, including six people in intensive care units (ICU) at St. Joes.
Less than five are in Hamilton Health Sciences ICUs.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.