Ontario’s infants and children deserve universal and safe access to flu shots, now

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We, the undersigned, representative of over 1400 pediatricians in Ontario, would like to express our urgent concerns regarding an imminent crisis in influenza vaccination. 

Pediatricians provide specialized care for infants and children across Ontario on a daily basis. We are strong believers in vaccines and preventive medicine. 

Flu kills hundreds of children every year in North America, and in Canada, over 1000 children are hospitalized every season.  More children were hospitalized last year with Influenza than have been with COVID-19 to date! 

This year, as you are aware and very soon, COVID-19 stands to compound that risk and complicate the logistics of getting our communities adequately immunized against flu.  Unlike COVID-19, we already have effective flu vaccines, available now.  Consider this potentially devastating collision course of three key things:

1)   Unprecedented strong interest amongst parents for the influenza vaccine

2)   COVID-19 and Flu co-circulating in the community

3)   Decreased capacity for physicians to efficiently deliver vaccinations related to adhering to public health guidelines (distancing, cleaning), and difficulties with staffing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  

COVID19 remains a growing and unpredictable threat.  Not only do we want to prevent our children from getting sick with the flu, we also must prevent them from making others around them sick.

To avoid this, we MUST have the uptake of flu vaccine rise from the usual 30-35% of the population to much higher levels, especially for young children and infants over 6 months of age.

We need to start NOW because the vaccine takes 2 weeks to build immunity and antibodies.

What are we missing as of today?  We need a province wide strategy to immunize those aged 6 months to 4 years of age who normally get their flu vaccine from their doctor. 

Right now, Public Health seems to expect the status quo from years past, when individual doctor’s offices and scattered flu clinics gave flu vaccines.

But this year, there is a dramatically decreased capacity to administer flu vaccines in these settings as noted above.

Without a plan, we will FAIL to reach all children and infants who want and need the flu vaccine unless we build a better centralized, universal infrastructure, now.

This is an emergent public health crisis looming before us.

There is a solution.

Ontario pediatricians and other community physicians can and are willing to assist in planning large scale, community-based province wide flu vaccination clinics. 

These would ensure that we can safely administer flu vaccine universally throughout the province in large numbers, quickly and efficiently.

This also would ensure that clinics are consistently stocked with full PPE and adequate vaccine stocks and quality control.

These clinics could potentially be part of COVID assessment centers staffed by public health and community pediatricians and other volunteer physicians.  

We need help.

Government and Public Health need to step up and help coordinate this effort. We want to be part of the solution.

Planning this right will also prepare us for a future COVID19 mass immunization strategy as it relates to children.

The potential benefits of creating province wide vaccination clinics are enormous, especially for our children and youth. 

Any child or infant in Ontario, especially those under 4 years of age, should have access to the flu vaccine in a safe and universal (province wide) way. Now.

As an Ontario Pediatrician, are you concerned?  Do you support the letter above to go to decision makers on your behalf?

If so, please sign this PSOMA petition to present to government decision makers stating that we URGENTLY NEED a province wide strategy for influenza vaccination for children, NOW!  

There are 1400 pediatricians in this province, let’s get as many to sign this as we can!

Thank you for your support!

Pediatrics Section, OMA
Representing Ontario’s Pediatricians