Ontario’s top doctor clears up remarks about pediatric vaccines after being accused of “feeding” vaccine hesitancy
Ontario’s top public health official has released a statement reiterating his belief in the safety and effectiveness of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine after facing criticism for previous statements that appeared to question whether there was enough data to to support the regulation of its use.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, was asked during a press briefing on Wednesday whether the province would consider making vaccination mandatory for public school students, but said such a move would not be considered because it is a “new vaccine.” trade province needs “greater experience with it before we would ever commission it”.
The comments immediately caused a stir on social media, with a number of epidemiologists and other public health experts suggesting it might be driving vaccine hesitancy.
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca also commented on the matter, posting a message on Twitter saying Moore should “clarify his comments” or “leave.”
“Millions of children have received the vaccine with no side effects. The statement of Dr. Moore feeds vaccine hesitancy. As the top doctor in the province, he should fight not feeding it,” Del Duca wrote.
About 47 percent of children ages five to 11 in Ontario have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, among the lowest rates in Canada.
During the earlier press conference, Moore said he would like to see “higher uptake” in the age cohort, but noted that parents are concerned “that it’s a new vaccine” and have also raised concerns about “possible side effects” including relatively rare cases of myocarditis.
Moore went on to say that he “strongly believes in the benefits of vaccination for the age group,” but he was still criticized for his initial remarks, including by Del Duca.
“I want to make it clear that Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine is safe and effective for children ages five to 11 and provides strong protection against COVID-19 and variants,” he said in a statement issued later Wednesday afternoon, accompanying his comments specified. “We know some parents may have questions before vaccinating their child. That’s why we work closely with public health organizations, children’s hospitals, children’s services and other health professionals to ensure parents are supported to get answers to their questions, including partnering with SickKids to provide confidential, convenient and accessible child immunization counseling services enable. young people and their families”.
Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine was approved for use by Health Canada in late November.
The vaccine is packaged differently as it uses a reduced dose, but is otherwise identical to the vaccine used for people aged 12 and over.
A study previously published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that almost all side effects of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five to 11 have been mild so far.
Injection site pain, fatigue and headache were the most commonly reported reactions.