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Vaccination rate for young children continues to lag

Demand is not exceeding clinic capacity

Houston and area continues to lag behind other places in the north when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11.

There were no increases in this age category from Feb. 16 to Feb. 23, leaving the vaccination percentage at just over 20 per cent of the estimated 395 children Northern Health estimates are eligible, indicate the latest statistics available from the health agency.

As such, Houston and area remain solidly in the top ten of areas having the fewest vaccinations in that age category.

The rural area around Vanderhoof stands at 19.5 per cent, Tumber Ridge at 18.8 per cent and and the rural area north of Peace River at 9.7 per cent.

The low vaccination percentage for this age group mirrors that for the rest of the population in Houston and area where, as of Feb. 23, 75.9 per cent had two doses of vaccine compared to 80 per cent across the north.

And it’s not as if there is more demand than vaccination clinic hours in Houston. Northern Health is keeping its one weekly clinic for those more than 12 years old into March but is cutting back the time slot from three hours to two. And it is sticking to one weekly clinic of two hours at a time for the 5 to 11 age group.

“Northern Health adjusts capacity to meet demand,” said Northern Health official Eryn Collins as the health agency settles into its weekly vaccination schedule. “We’ll always do that.”

“Each week there are approximately 16 appointments dedicated to 5-11 year olds in Houston,” said Collins.

“As things stand there are open appointments available in each of the upcoming scheduled clinics.”

Even if the 5 to 11 age clinic was fully booked each week and every child within that age group was vaccinated with a first dose, it would take more than four and a half months to reach that goal.

Both the 5-11 and the over 12 clinics require booking beforehand.

About the Author: Rod Link

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