A B.C. doctor is encouraging the provincial government to consider establishing flu vaccine clinics at schools to make it more convenient to get immunized.
Vancouver family physician Dr. Anna Wolak says school-based clinics would ensure the vaccine is connected directly with people who need it.
The school system is currently used to administer vaccines in Grade 6 and Grade 9, with consent from parents.
“I have heard this both in my setting as a parent and at my clinic from parents — why can’t we do this at schools?” Dr. Wolak said in an interview.
“If that is the only barrier, it could take that flu shot rate up higher.”
British Columbia has been reluctant to use schools as vaccinations centres for various reasons.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has stated parents would prefer vaccines are administered at clinics or pharmacies, and the province’s ‘Get Vaccinated’ system allows families to get their vaccines together, no matter their age.
The province is not currently running any flu vaccine clinics, only providing the vaccine to those who register through the provincial system.
Concerns around influenza are especially high for younger children.
Vaccination rates for those between six months and four years of age — a group largely not in school — is 21 per cent in B.C. The flu vaccination rate for those five to 11 is 20 per cent, and 15 per cent for those 12 to 17 years of age.
“We have heard from parents it is not the preferred option to get immunized, although we have used schools after hours,” Henry said.
“The highest risk age group for children are the children six months to five years of age who are eligible for vaccination. Then, of course, they’re not in schools.”
There are currently some vaccination programs in schools in parts of the province where it makes sense.
Henry said schools are not the only setting where the province is seeing transmission.
The province has limited COVID-19 vaccination clinics at school and they did not work as well as expected, according to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.
“The school based models we tried did not work as well as we had hoped. We are working to get everyone vaccinated,” he said.