Manitoba

Kids under 12 make up a third of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba: Dr. Reimer

Manitoba kids under the age of 12 now make up about one-third of COVID-19 cases overall, and 75 per cent of all current school-related cases are among that age group, which remains ineligible for the vaccine.

75% of current school cases among kids under 12

'More and more cases are showing up in unvaccinated populations, and that includes children under the age of 12,' Dr. Joss Reimer said Wednesday. However, Manitoba has not seen a significant increase in severe outcomes among that age group. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

Manitoba kids under the age of 12 now make up about one-third of COVID-19 cases overall, and 75 per cent of all current school-related cases are among that age group, which remains ineligible for the vaccine.

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead on the province's vaccine implementation task force, announced those figures during a news conference on Wednesday. 

"We know that the vaccines work and what we're seeing is that more and more cases are showing up in unvaccinated populations, and that includes children under the age of 12," Reimer said.

Despite the increasing number of cases, Reimer said there hasn't been a significant increase in the number of severe outcomes among younger kids.

A spokesperson for Shared Health told CBC News that between Oct. 1 and Oct. 26, three children under the age of 12 had been admitted to hospital. There were no kids in that age range admitted to intensive care units.

Health Canada could approve an application from drug-maker Pfizer to approve its vaccine for use in children age five to 11 as early as mid-November. Once that happens, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will determine if the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any potential risks for those kids.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration's medical advisory body has recommended the vaccine for that age group, although the FDA has not given final approval, Reimer said.

In a separate decision, NACI has updated its recommended time interval between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccination shots, extending it from four weeks to eight weeks.

Manitoba's current recommendation is a minimum of 28 days between first and second doses.

The province's vaccine task force is reviewing NACI's decision but has not yet changed its recommendation, although there is clear evidence that a longer time between doses provides protection in the long term, Reimer said.

"What we need to consider is how we balance that against the reality that we're still in a fourth wave of this pandemic," she said. 

"There is also a benefit to providing as much protection as possible in the short term, with the current shorter window between doses and the plan to address the long-term protection with booster doses over time."

The provincial government released updated numbers on COVID-19 cases among school-age children and school staff on Tuesday. There have now been a total of 583 cases among school-age children or staff since the start of the school year, an increase of 100 since last Thursday

A sixth school outbreak since Sept. 7 has also been declared. Manitoba has declared as many COVID-19 outbreaks in schools within the first seven weeks of this school year as it did in all of the previous year.

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