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HKPR concerned about increased virus activity in school-aged children

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is starting to see more COVID-19 cases in younger populations. “To date, in this school year, we’ve had 36 cases identified among the school-aged population and staff associated with schools. Other than one outbreak associated with a bus exposure, we have not had any outbreaks at any of our elementary or secondary schools. However, in the last week alone, we have had 12 of those 36 cases identified among school-aged [children] or staff associated with schools. To me, this really indicates we’re seeing increased activity in a number of different settings, and we’re continuing to see it among younger aged groups and school-aged children,” Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s (HKPR) medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking told reporters on Wednesday, December 1st.

Recently, Dr. Bocking advised The Standard that school-aged kids had the “highest rate per population of cases” in Ontario. She explained, most of the virus’s spread to this age group is happening in the community rather than in schools.

“COVID-19 activity among younger children, and among school-aged children, is still a reflection of COVID-19 in the community. We’re not necessarily seeing a lot of spread within schools. But there is [sufficient] COVID-19 activity in the community that we’re seeing more cases among schools. I think one of the biggest pieces associated with that is, young children, elementary school children, in particular, have not been eligible for vaccination.”

Dr. Bocking stressed, right now, the best defence for children is the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think, certainly as we rollout vaccination and offer vaccines to younger ages, we’ll start to see decreased transmission and then decreased [virus] activity among that age group as well,” she said.

The local medical officer discussed how the vaccine is different for the 5 to 11-year-old age group than for adults.

“The vaccine is a smaller dose. The pediatric or children’s dose of vaccine is ten micrograms compared to the 12 [years of age] and [older] dose, which is 30 micrograms,” Dr. Bocking said.

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