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Posted: September 2, 2022

Health and safety remain focus as kids return to school

The Ministry of Health, the provincial health officer and the Ministry of Education and Child Care are reminding families of how to stay healthy and reduce the spread of communicable diseases, including COVID-19, as children return to school and child care.

Measures for protecting students and families include staying up to date with all your vaccines, practising health awareness, and staying home when sick, including if you have a fever, cough, rash, diarrhea or vomiting, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Child Care stated in a media release.

“Vaccines are important to protect people against communicable diseases. Families are strongly encouraged to ensure their children have received their COVID-19 vaccine, and are up to date on all their routine vaccinations before they start or return to child care or school. This is particularly important in advance of respiratory illness season and as more activities return indoors, including learning,” the ministries stated.

Children aged 5-11 who have received their primary COVID-19 vaccine series are now eligible for a booster dose six months after they received the second dose of the primary series. Families will be contacted with an invitation to book the next dose when their child becomes eligible. Infants and young children six months and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ministry of Education and Child Care has worked with education partners to update the communicable disease guidelines for K-12 schools, based on recently updated public health guidance.

Wearing a mask will continue to be a personal choice, and that choice will be supported and respected. Schools will continue to have masks available for those who want to wear one. In order to create a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff, the province has invested over $166.5 million into upgrading and improving classroom ventilation since the beginning of the pandemic.

Updated public-health guidance is also available for child care providers. As independent organizations, child care providers are responsible for implementing their own health and safety policies to suit the needs of staff, children and families. Children over two years old and staff may choose to wear a mask based on personal or family choice. Child care staff should support children to ensure safe and proper use of masks if a child or their family chooses to wear a mask.

Infants and young children can get their routine vaccines at health units and some doctors’ and nurse practitioners’ offices. In many regions, routine vaccination for school-aged children and teens (beginning in Grade 6) are offered at clinics held at schools. They can also get vaccinated at health units, as well as at some pharmacies and doctors’ and nurse practitioners’ offices. Children can get their COVID-19 vaccines at child-friendly clinics across the province.

All vaccines offered to children have been shown to be safe and effective through extensive research and testing, as well as ongoing monitoring.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is now available for children six months to four years of age. The vaccine is a two-dose series, given eight weeks apart.

Even if a child or adult has already had COVID-19, vaccination can provide a stronger and longer lasting immune response to protect against future infection.

Children under six years of age are eligible for free vaccines that protect them from more than a dozen diseases, such as polio, measles and chickenpox.

The province also offers children in grades 6 and 9 free vaccines, including the human papillomavirus (HPV) and meningitis vaccines, and booster doses of vaccines they first received in early childhood.

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