Skip to content

York Region resuming regular school immunizations

Public health plans to catch up on vaccinating students for non-COVID-19 diseases
Stock photo

York Region Public Health is resuming school vaccinations for diseases besides COVID-19 and is getting back to more normal operations.

Medical officer of health Dr. Barry Pakes told regional council April 28 that the Grade 7 immunization program would resume next week at select clinic locations. He said public health has also normalized COVID-19 operations but would be picking up on other programs. 

“While COVID is far from normal right now and still very much a pandemic, not an endemic, but it is part of our normal work,” Pakes said. “We are doing our best and have already restarted many of our other operations.”

The region lifted its state of emergency April 26 and indicated it would begin resuming more in-person programming and services. The emergency order had been in place since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The Grade 7 immunization program includes vaccines for meningococcal disease, Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus. The meningococcal vaccine is the only one of the three required by law, but public health strongly recommends the other two. However, authorities suspended the in-school program due to the pandemic, and many public health units will start playing catch-up. 

Pakes said schools are still feeling the impact of the sixth wave of the pandemic, with higher rates of school absenteeism. However, he said it is not at the 30 per cent provincial threshold to start closing schools, instead hovering at 10 to 13 per cent.

“Which has increased dramatically, or quite significantly, from when mask mandates were lifted,” Pakes said. “But is at a level that is not concerning to us, although it does present some problems to children who are off and to staffing in those schools.”

Pakes said the COVID-19 wastewater indicator is beginning to crest, though it is still elevated. He said that the Omicron BA.2 variant is now dominant.

“York Region, I believe we’re in a good place, and I believe we have reached the peak, overall, in terms of cases,” Pakes said.

The region said it would be holding immunizations at some schools starting this month. You can call Access York for more information at 1-877-464-9675 or book an appointment online through the region website for student catch-up immunizations at a York Region clinic. 

Pakes said public health hopes to resume more clinics next school year.

“We are looking forward to catching up everyone in that very important program in the weeks and months ahead, especially in the fall,” he said.

“It has been tough, and we all know that,” chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson said of the pandemic. “But we got through it. Now, hopefully, for better days ahead.”