With the recent roll out of COVID-19 vaccinations in Alberta for children aged five to 11, Wolf Creek Public Schools is assuring parents and guardians that no vaccinations will take place within their schools without parental consent.
“Please know, we are not aware at this time of in-school vaccination clinics planned by Alberta Health Services (AHS) for this age group,” stated a letter to families on Nov. 22, from superintendent Tim De Ruyck.
“We can assure you that if any such program and clinics are planned they will be administered by AHS and students will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Wolf Creek Public Schools without parental consent.”
The letter reminded parents when in-school vaccination programs were offered by AHS for students in Grades 7 to 12 earlier this year, permission forms were sent home in advance.
“Families were free to say no to their child receiving the vaccine,” said De Ruyck.
“This practice should serve to reinforce that no student will receive a COVID-19 vaccine in school without parental consent.”
According to WCPS, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange has stated that although Alberta Education encourages vaccination for all those eligible, school children will not be required to be vaccinated to attend school.
In a letter to parents and guardians from chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw dated Nov. 24, Hinshaw stated that the vaccine was safe for children and adverse effects were “very rare.”
“In recent months, I have heard from parents who are concerned their young children have not yet been eligible for vaccine protection from COVID-19,” said Hinshaw.
“I have also heard from parents who are worried about whether the vaccine is safe for their young children.”
Health Canada approved the vaccine on Nov. 19, 2021, based on a clinical trial of over 3,000 young children receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
The trial showed the protection level against symptomatic COVID-19 was 90.7 per cent, similar to the protection level that COVID-19 vaccines provide for older children and adults.
In the study, those vaccinated children who still contracted COVID-19 had milder illness. There were no safety issues found during the trial.
She went on to explain that the government “watches closely” for adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) in Alberta, the rest of Canada, and around the world.
“Adverse events do happen, but they are very rare,” she said.
Of the 6,796,955 doses administered in Alberta to date, across all ages, there have been 2,005 AEFIs, or 0.03 per cent, according to the province.
“Whether to vaccinate your children is an important choice,” said Hinshaw. “I encourage you to base your decision on the available evidence after weighing the benefits and risks.”
More than 394,000 pediatric doses of the vaccine are to arrive in Alberta, and the province began taking bookings for five to 11-year-olds on Nov. 24.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine is currently the only vaccine approved for use in children aged five to 11 in Canada.
The Government of Alberta recommends an interval of at least eight weeks between the first and second doses for children aged five to 11. It is also recommended that children should wait at least 14 days between receiving the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and another type of vaccine.
With the roll out, children under 12 will continue to have access to businesses that are participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) whether or not they have been vaccinated.
According to the province, there has been about 30,700 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in children in Alberta aged five to 11 since March, 2020.
Of those cases, 78 reportedly ended up in hospital and 20 in intensive care.