Special Statement from Dr. Etches –September 1, 2022

Special Statement by Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health

On August 31, 2022, the Province of Ontario announced expansion of COVID-19 booster dose eligibility to children aged 5 to 11, as well as changes to the Provincial COVID-19 isolation guidance.

Booster Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Aged 5 to 11

The Province of Ontario recently announced expanded eligibility for COVID-19 booster doses to include children aged 5 to 11 providing an extra layer of protection ahead of the fall. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) also recently released new guidelines on the use of a first booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 to 11 years of age.

As of 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 1, 2022, parents and caregivers of children aged 5 to 11 can book appointments for the paediatric COVID-19 booster dose through the provincial booking system and the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, as well as participating health care providers and select pharmacies. Drop-ins are limited, so booking an appointment is strongly encouraged. Booster appointments will be booked for approximately six months (168 days) after a second dose. To book a paediatric COVID-19 booster dose appointment online, individuals must be at least 5 years old at the time of appointment. Please visit the Ottawa Public Health webpage for clinic hours and locations.

Changes to Provincial COVID-19 Isolation Guidance

The province has also updated their isolation recommendations changing the five-day isolation recommendation to: “stay home if sick”. After isolating, wear a mask when out in public and avoid visiting vulnerable individuals at risk of severe infection and highest risk settings for 10 days from when your symptoms started.

For more details on the updated self-isolation guidance, please visit covid-19.ontario.ca/exposed.

The provincial self-assessment tool is available to those who have symptoms to help navigate self-isolation requirements specific to their unique situation, this tool can be found at: covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment.

Return to School

Over the last two years, Ottawa Public Health’s primary work with schools has been supporting schools and families with COVID-19. This year, we are excited to restore many of our regular services, including important services relating to students’ mental and physical health. This new school year offers the opportunity for in-person learning and extra-curricular activities at school, which are so important for the health and wellbeing of children and youth.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, Ottawa Public Health continues to recommend:

  • Screening children and youth daily for symptoms using the updated daily screening tool here: covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening.
  • Staying home when a child or youth is sick or has any symptoms of COVID-19, staying home means:
    • Stay home until you have no fever, and your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours for gastro-intestinal symptoms).
    • Take the provincial self-assessment to see recommendations tailored to your situation here: covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment.
    • Continue to wear a mask, after your isolation, when out in public for 10 days from when your symptoms started.
    • Avoid non-essential visits to high risk settings (like hospitals and long-term care) for 10 days from when your symptoms started.
  • Using Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) as needed; more information about RATs, eligibility for PCR testing, assessment and treatment is available at OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDTesting.
  • Ensuring children and youth are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccine. It’s never too late to get your first and your second dose. Vaccines remain your greatest tool to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on your health.

Ottawa Public Health continues to inform schools on best practices for infection prevention and control including adequate ventilation, the use of personal protective equipment, promoting vaccines and hand washing, reporting absences to OPH, and what to do when a child is sick at school. Consider wearing a mask indoors and outdoors if distancing becomes challenging or is not possible. As per the Provincial guidance, staff and students should wear a mask for 10 days from when symptoms started when returning to school after illness. It is vital that schools remain a respectful, mask-friendly space for students and educators, and we continue to work together to foster a positive learning environment for all.

General COVID-19 Vaccination for Children and Youth

COVID-19 is still present in our community, and Omicron variants are very contagious, causing a lot of illness in our homes, schools, and childcare settings. As we enter the respiratory virus season this fall, choosing to get your child vaccinated as soon as they are eligible (including booster doses) will provide the best protection from serious illness and complications from COVID-19. Ensuring your children are up to date on their routine immunizations and that they receive the flu vaccine this fall are the best ways to protect children against serious illness and complications.
It is recommended to be vaccinated even after a COVID-19 infection. Children and youth should wait at least eight weeks after the appearance of symptoms or a positive test result if there were no symptoms. There are still plenty of opportunities to access the COVID-19 vaccine in Ottawa.

Anyone who is eligible and wishes to get vaccinated can do so at any of our community clinics or neighbourhood vaccine hubs. Drop-ins are limited so appointments are recommended. Find out here: where to get your child vaccinated here.

I want to thank the people of Ottawa for their continued efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in our community. Ottawa Public Health is committed to continuing to keep you informed to provide you with the best knowledge to make decisions for you and your family. I appreciate the respect for each other and the choices we make for ourselves and our families.

Thank you. Merci. Meegwetch.

Dr. Vera Etches

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