The West Vancouver school district has asked that vaccines for COVID-19 be included in routine vaccination clinics held in its elementary schools.
Carolyn Broady, the chair of West Vancouver’s Board of Education, said at the most recent public board meeting the school board has requested that vaccination clinics for kids five to 11 be held at local schools.
“We know we have high vaccination rates in our community but if approved this will provide another opportunity to reduce a barrier to vaccination,” she said.
Any vaccinations of elementary school children will be by parental consent, said Tricia Buckley, spokesperson for the school district.
So far, however, there’s no word on whether the request will be approved by Vancouver Coastal Health.
Health authorities have so far shied away from providing COVID-19 vaccinations in schools, although other routine vaccinations – including those for the human papilloma virus, for instance – are administered in schools.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s medical health officer, said early on the decision was made to vaccinate children with their parents at community clinics because that’s what parents said they preferred.
Health authorities have also been leery of attracting anti-vax protesters to schools.
Henry said Friday (Jan. 20) decisions about providing vaccinations in schools are being made on a “school-by-school basis” by local medical health officers.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday close to 50 per cent of children five to 11 have received a first dose of vaccination provincewide. But he added that varies considerably by location.
As of Friday, 63 per cent of kids five to 11 in West Vancouver had received a first dose of COVID vaccine while 72 per cent of children that age in North Vancouver had been vaccinated.
But the vaccination rate for children in the Northern Health Authority, for instance, is only about 30 per cent – half the rate in West Vancouver, said Dix. The variation in vaccination rates is widest in the youngest group of children, he said.
Dix added vaccination rates have tended to get lower as age groups get younger.
So far, however, school vaccination clinics have been met with a “slow response” from families, said Dix, while bringing “challenges to some of those schools.”
Among local teens, 92 per cent of those 12-17 in West Vancouver and 95 per cent in North Vancouver have been full vaccinated.