Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

People sit in the stands for their observation period after receiving their COVID-19 vaccination at a mass vaccination clinic at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on June 27, 2021.

Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

Ontario health units are ramping up youth vaccination efforts, using prizes and social media, as the window quickly closes for students to be fully immunized against COVID-19 by the time school starts.

Youth aged 12 to 17 have the lowest overall vaccination rate of any eligible age cohort in the province. Just over 64 per cent have one shot and 41 per cent are fully vaccinated, with variation across different regions.

Barry Pakes, a University of Toronto professor in public health, said many families are busy with other activities in the summer and may not realize they have just a few days to get their first shot in order to be fully vaccinated by the start of September.

Story continues below advertisement

Students would need to get a first dose by the end of the August long weekend to be fully immunized for Labour Day.

“People are just not in that mindset of, ‘School is only five weeks away, we really need to focus on being protected so that we can return to school normally,’” he said in an interview. “That’s really the key focus, and then the other piece is how we actually do that.”

The government has said it aims to resume classes and other activities in person, looking at vaccination rates among eligible students, staff and community members.

Where do I go to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment? The latest rules by province

The comparatively low rate among youth is partially linked to the timing of the vaccine rollout, Pakes said. Youth in virus hot spots like Toronto and Peel became eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech shots slightly earlier than in other regions, where appointments started to open up in June, as school was winding down and summer holidays began.

Now nearing the end of July, health units have started running targeted initiatives to increase the numbers, emphasizing the return to school in a few weeks’ time. Peterborough Public Health is offering walk-in clinics for youth and has partnered with the Peterborough Petes, the local Ontario Hockey League team, to encourage young fans to get their shots.

York Region sent letters to families in areas with low vaccine uptake, personalized for individual schools, including frequently asked questions about vaccines. Peel Public Health allowed youth and families to skip the line at vaccine clinics on July 21 and 22, as part of a “Vax to School” push. Several health units are also using social media campaigns to reach younger people.

In Windsor-Essex County, about 55 per cent of youth have received only one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Story continues below advertisement

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the region, said summer is a factor in the lower rates, as some families don’t want vaccine appointments or possible side-effects to waylay their vacation plans. There are also unique hesitancy concerns among parents, he said.

“For some of them, they’re fine to accept the vaccine for themselves, but they feel that maybe their children should wait to receive the vaccine,” Ahmed said in an interview.

The health unit is aiming to improve access in areas with low vaccine uptake, running pop-up clinics at schools and the local mall, some involving incentives like laptop prizes and food vouchers.

Recent clinics run at schools have had lower than anticipated uptake, Ahmed said, but the results have been “better than not having anything at all.” He said there are plans to shift the vaccination campaign to individual schools with lower vaccination uptake come September.

“When we get to the point when the school starts to open up there will be more targeted effort that we need to do in each of these schools,” he said.

The government hasn’t yet released its back-to-school plan, but the education minister has said vaccination rates among eligible students, staff and the broader community will be considered as the province aims for a September with more extracurriculars and activities allowed.

Story continues below advertisement

The province’s top doctor has also stressed the importance of high vaccination coverage among youth and young adults, predicting COVID-19 cases will rise in the fall when they congregate together inside socially and for classes.

The provincial government has not specified a target for youth vaccination by the time classes start. When asked, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott replied with overall vaccination targets for the province to move beyond Step 3, a reopening plan that doesn’t involve schools.

Pakes said a rule requiring that students get vaccinated to participate in extracurriculars like sports and clubs would help those activities run safely in the fall.

“It’s going to be a hard thing for governments to say, but that’s really what’s necessary in order to have everyone safe,” he said.

The return to classes also presents an opportunity to make vaccination accessible to students who didn’t get their shots over the summer, he said.

“I think (the vaccination rate) will go up and I very much hope it does,” he said. “We just need to incentivize it properly.”

Story continues below advertisement

With files from Allison Jones

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies