Ontario sees 328 new COVID-19 cases as province finalizes plan to vaccinate 5 to 11 year olds

Ontario reported 328 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as Health Minister Christine Elliott made assurances that the province will be "ready to go" if vaccines become available for children in Canada.

Health ministry reviewing immunization plans submitted by all public health units

A student, 13, gets her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic held at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School in Toronto earlier this year. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported 328 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as Health Minister Christine Elliott made assurances that the province will be "ready to go" if vaccines become available for children in Canada.

Vaccine manufacturer Pfizer has asked Health Canada to approve its product for children aged five to 11. The doses would be about one-third the size given to adults and teens age 12 and up.

At a morning news conference, Elliott said that the province's 34 public health units have submitted plans for distributing and administering the vaccine in the likely case that it is approved. The ministry is currently reviewing each one, she said, and health units will be working with pharmacies and primary care providers in the roll out.

"By the time the vaccine is approved for youth by Health Canada, we will be ready to go," she said. "I know that parents are concerned about this, but they need not be."

Asked about whether children might be vaccinated at school, Elliott said that schools could host immunization clinics but most likely outside of learning hours, as parents may prefer to be there.

"We are actively working on this and putting the final plan together right now," she continued.

Elliott was at a Shoppers Drug Mart location in Toronto to release details of Ontario's annual flu vaccine campaign. She said that a first batch of flu vaccine doses was already used to immunize residents of long-term care and hospital patients. 

For the remainder of October, shots will be available to seniors, children between six months and four years old, pregnant women and other people at a high risk of complications from influenza. Doses will then become available to all Ontarians in November. 

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said that this year's flu shot can be administered at the same time as COVID-19 vaccines, for anyone who might want to do both at once, Elliott said.

1 of Ontario's 4,844 public schools closed due to COVID

Meanwhile, 328 additional cases today dropped the seven-day average to 407.

The deaths of four more people with COVID-19 pushed the official toll to 9,819.

Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:

New school-related cases: 173, logged between last Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon. About 91 per cent were students. As of yesterday, just one of Ontario's 4,844 public schools (roughly 0.0002 per cent) were closed due to COVID-19.

Tests completed in the last 24 hours: 20,792, with a positivity rate of 1.5 per cent.

Active cases: 3,672, marking 10 days of decreases.

Vaccinations: 21,310 doses were administered by public health units on Monday. About 83.4 per cent of eligible Ontarians, those aged 12 and older, have now had two doses of vaccine.


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