Wednesday 11 August 2021

Vaccination class

If, as the Skegg report suggests:
  1. A Delta outbreak is not unlikely before the vaccine rollout completes;
  2. Border restrictions will start easing when the adult vaccination programme reaches completion, but under an aggressive containment model that will push hard to knock out any outbreaks that we do get; and,
  3. "The degree of community protection will be increased if eligibility for vaccination is extended to people between 12 and 16 years of age"
then why aren't we aggressively pushing vaccination for 12-16 year olds before the end of the school year? MedSafe approved it for that group back in June. Government's said nothing about where those kids sit in the rollout. 

Right now, kids are in classrooms. They will be until December. 

Classrooms are risky: tightly packed enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. If something gets in there, it will spread, and Delta has been proving far worse for kids than prior variants have.

Classrooms are also a massive opportunity. If you send public health nurses out to the schools, you can jab all of them right there where they are. That's how we did the normal kid vaccinations when I was in elementary school in Manitoba. The public health nurse was Beth Kissick. She'd go from school to school and get all the Grade (whatever) kids with whatever jab was needed for them. The kids would line up outside the gym, then go in to get jabbed. Each kid was instructed to yell as loud as possible; she'd tell everyone ahead of time it was a yelling contest to see who could yell the loudest after the jab. Then nobody who was actually scared would feel bad about screaming. 

This stuff isn't rocket science. 

Getting everyone to make appointments to bring their kids to wherever vaccines are being administered is a hassle compared to sending nurses and jabs out to the schools where the kids are. 

If we do this, there's less risk to kids, there's less risk of the virus being spread by kids if it gets out here, and there's less chance that the risk posed by a big unvaccinated population would cause problems in any planned easing of border restrictions later.

If we don't do this, there's every chance that, when the adult vaccination programme completes, we'll get the following from the Prime Minister. Maybe December, maybe January:
"We have now completed the adult vaccination programme. Vaccination rates have been high. If you haven't gotten yours, we still urge you to get yours. And our plan has always been to ease border restrictions at the completion of the vaccination rollout.
But now that we have had time to think about it, Delta looks very scary for children. And those aged 12-16 have not yet been included in our vaccination rollout. If we opened now to vaccinated travelers, there's a high chance that Covid would get through into the schools. We cannot take that chance. We ask you all to wait just a little longer.
Unfortunately, it looks like the most effective way of doing that will be when school starts in February. Everyone is out on summer holiday now, and we can't expect people to make vaccination appointments for their teenagers during that time. The programme will begin mid-February and should complete by mid-March. It won't take that much longer.
We are aware that international regulators approved the Pfizer vaccine for those aged 5 to 11 years old back in late September 2021. We have today asked MedSafe to begin its evaluation of the vaccine for that younger cohort; we have decided that we cannot order any vaccines until MedSafe approves them. We blame Pfizer for not submitting applications to MedSafe to start this process earlier. We will start thinking about whether to finalise orders for vaccines for that cohort after MedSafe approves them, and we will start thinking about how to roll out vaccines to younger children after they have been delivered."
Surely there's a case for shifting some of the sequencing to get kids done before summer holidays hit. Make vaccination at school the default. Provide an opt-out mechanism for those with a doctor's certificate if there's any kid for whom there'd be a real medical risk in providing the shot. But otherwise, line 'em up outside the gym and jab 'em. 

I cannot remember a single kid who opted out of in-school vaccination in the 1980s. We all just lined up and got the shots. It was fine. This will be fine too. We just need to do it. 

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