Simcoe County students who missed their Grade 7 vaccinations because of COVID-19 shutdowns will be able to get them at a public health clinic next month.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is planning catch-up clinics beginning the week of November 2 when vaccinations will be available by appointment for current Grade 8 students in the region.
“It’s important that students complete the immunization series for Hepatitis B (Hep B) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV),” said Dr. Colin Lee, associate medical officer of health for SMDHU in a press release. “They need both doses of each vaccine for the best protection against these diseases.”
In years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, public health nurses visited each elementary school in Simcoe Muskoka to provide three vaccines to Grade 7 students. In the fall, students received the first dose of Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines, and in the spring they received their second dose of the same. The meningococcal vaccine is also administered to students in the fall.
During a media briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for SMDHU, said the clinics would not be offering vaccinations to current Grade 7 students, nor would there be in-school vaccination programs.
“We will not be providing vaccines to Grade 7 students until a year from now. We will be planning to do a double cohort at that time,” he said.
According to a press release from the health unit, approximately 2,200 students will need to be immunized. The clinics at health unit offices across the region will be held one or two days per week depending on the demand and they will run now through to spring.
Dr. Gardner noted the flu vaccine is available and will continue to be produced and distributed through the month of November. The vaccine is for the general population and can be administered through a healthcare provider or at a pharmacy.
Gardner suggested contacting the venue in advance to ensure there is flu vaccine available, and if not, to be patient until more is distributed.
“I encourage people to go ahead and get vaccinated,” he said. “This is an important year to get vaccinated against influenza.”
The influenza vaccine will not provide immunity against COVID-19.For more information or to book an appointment, call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 ext. 8827, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or see www.smdhu.org.