Vaccinations for Children Age 5-11
Health Canada has announced the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5-11. More information is available in this joint statement from Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's Provincial Health Officer, and the Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. Parents/guardians/caregivers can register their child with the Get Vaccinated system and will be notified when their child can be vaccinated. The vaccines are free and children do not need BC Care Cards to receive them.
BCCDC has information on COVID-19 vaccination for ages 5 to 11, including that all approved vaccines have gone through rigorous review and approval to ensure they are safe and effective. Read the parent/guardian information sheet.
Gathering and Events Order Updates
The PHOs Gatherings & Events Order was updated November 16, 2021.
This update includes revised language related to K-12 public and independent schools to describe who the Order does not apply to (Section AA): “This Order does not apply to…before, during or after school programs for students of public or independent schools (schools) organized by a school; home education or distributed learning activities…”
The PHO has confirmed this does not change the longstanding intention that all K-12 school-led activities, including extracurricular and social activities, are excluded from the requirements of the Order, including proof of vaccination, no matter their location.
Schools (which includes PACs) should not check proof of vaccination, and should continue to implement the following capacity guidelines for extracurricular gatherings and events (including concerts, festivals, and inter-school sporting events):
- Indoor activities may have 50 spectators or 50% seated capacity, whichever is greater.
- Outdoor activities may have 5,000 spectators or 50% seated capacity, whichever is greater.
Schools (including PACs) should continue to follow all applicable regional public health orders or recommendations in place.
Updated Pediatric Data from BCCDC
On November 23, Dr. Henry and Minister Dix provided a pediatric update with details on the vaccinations for children aged 5-11 years old. You can review the slide deck.
Monthly School Situation Report
Announced by Dr. Henry on November 23 was the second monthly K-12 School Situation Report. We strongly encourage families to read and review the document. The purpose of this report is to provide a situational update on COVID-19 in BC K-12 schools since the start of the 2021-2022 school year. This document will be issued monthly and contains information on vaccination, cases and testing, severe outcomes, public notifications of potential exposures, regional analysis, and data sources and notes.
Key Report Findings:
Cases: The case incidence among 5‐11 year‐olds in BC is in general decline with some smaller peaks and valleys in November. Regions with higher vaccination rates among individuals 12 years and older have generally experienced lower case rates overall and among children.
Testing: Testing rates declined in October and have been relatively stable since the beginning of November in the 5‐17 age groups; the rate among the 0‐4 age group remains stable.
Outcomes: Serious outcomes from COVID‐19 infections continue to be rare among all school‐age children in BC. Hospitalization among 12‐17 year‐olds is less common for those who have at least 1 dose of vaccine compared to those who are unvaccinated. There have been no deaths among school‐age children in BC.
Vaccination coverage: By November 15, 2021, one‐dose coverage among 12‐17 year‐olds was 85% and two‐dose coverage was 79% provincially. On November 19, 2021, Health Canada authorized the use of the Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine for 5‐11 year‐olds.
Adverse events following immunization: There have been 133 adverse event reports following a COVID‐19 vaccine among 12‐17 year‐olds, for a reporting rate of 26.1 reports per 100,000 doses administered as of November 13, 2021. Of these, 14 were considered serious involving admission to hospital, and all have been discharged.
Exposure notifications: There have been 2,975 postings among 830 (45%) schools provincially between September 7 and November 13, 2021. Exposure means a child or staff has been in the school during their infectious period. Notifications are higher in areas where there is higher transmission in the community. Exposure notices reflect what is happening in the community more so than the risk in the school environment.
Clusters and outbreaks: A total of 382 COVID‐19 case clusters were reported in 217 (12% of schools - meaning 88% of schools didn't have any) K‐12 schools in BC since the beginning of the 2021‐2022 school year. The median cluster size is 3 as of November 6, 2021. During this period, 4 C19 school outbreaks have been declared in distinct schools; Outbreak is when there is increased transmission beyond a cluster and additional measures have been taken. The size of these has ranged from 36-67 cases and since Nov 6, 2 more have been reported. These remain rare events. In addition to the outbreaks included in the current analysis, one additional outbreak has recently been reported. A cluster is 2 or more cases in 14 days where there has been likely transmission in the school setting. In the Situation Report - investigation of these cases shows that most transmissions in school aged children is transmitted outside of school and at home.