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Kingston, Ont. doctors urge parents to vaccinate children for influenza, COVID-19

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Local doctors urge parents to vaccinate children for influenza, COVID-19
Local doctors urge parents to vaccinate children for influenza, COVID-19 – Dec 1, 2022

With an early start to the influenza season and COVID-19 not having eased much in 2022 a number of hospitals throughout Eastern Ontario are urging parents of young children to update their vaccinations.

In Ontario only seven per cent of children under five have received their first dose of a COVID vaccine, and only two per cent are fully vaccinated.

“We need to actually study and ask people why. Is it opportunity? Is it messaging? Is it the perception that coronavirus is not harmful for children? Is it a risk-benefit discussion that parents have had with themselves?” said Dr. Kirk Leifso with the Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

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The COVID-19 numbers in the Kingston area have subsided since the eighth wave hit the region earlier in the fall.

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Experts predict that COVID will continue to be at low levels over the next couple of months, but the virus has not gone away.

“Flu is really out-competing COVID in many ways. We are seeing much higher test positivity for influenza than we are for COVID,” said Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University.

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Influenza, COVID and other respiratory illnesses like RSV, have put a major strain on the pediatric health care system.

KHSC has recently expanded the amount of beds they have, but they’re still running short.

“We used to have 14 beds, now we have 21 beds and we’re full. We’re actually over capacity. Both from our local population, I think the latest numbers of children we’ve received from outside of Kingston is 20,” said Leifso.

Leifso said influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations are an effective way for individuals to protect themselves from the viruses and can reduce the risk of children ending up in an already overflowing hospital system.

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