COVID-19 vaccine mandate for kids not being considered at this time, B.C.'s top doctor says
With Canada working towards approving a COVID-19 vaccine for kids between the ages of five and 11, B.C.'s top doctor says officials aren't considering a vaccine mandate for that age group at this point.
Right now, vaccines are only approved for those aged 12 and older, but B.C. has already started preparing younger ages to get their shots by opening up registration. Even so, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that officials aren't yet looking to expand vaccine rules that are in place for adults to younger kids.
"I don't see at this point that mandatory vaccinations will be required for children," Henry said.
"I think there's a whole lot of considerations that we put into mandating vaccines and as we've talked about a number of times it depends on risk to the individual but also the situation that we're in and risk to others by the protection that we have or don't have."
Henry reiterated her previous assertion that children tend to experience a less severe illness if they're infected with COVID-19. Her comments came as she revealed the rate of positive tests among young British Columbians is trending down.
Late last month, data showed children between the ages of nine and 11 were getting infected at a rate of about 46 cases per 100,000 population in B.C. That number has since dropped to just under 30 cases per 100,000 population.
Henry said officials need to balance the benefit and the risk when considering vaccine rules for kids.
"We know some of the disruption that (children) have in their lives and it's a way to try and minimize that. That is really important. It's important for growth and development of children," Henry said. "This is not something that we're considering at this point."
Henry said there will likely be provisions in place to exclude unvaccinated children from spaces if there's a COVID-19 outbreak, similar to how measles outbreaks are sometimes handled.
"Those are the measures that we'll think about going forward," she said.
"But we're actually quite excited that we'll have some way of protecting young children from getting sick from this virus but also making sure that they can continue to experience the life that they need in this period of their growth and development."
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel