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Kids Come First Health Team helps youth 12+ to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the Ottawa region

Author: Kids Come First | Les enfants avant tout

19 August 2021

Ottawa—June 7, 2021 — Children from 12 to 17 years old in the Ottawa region are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial booking portal. Members of the Kids Come First Health Team, including Ottawa Public Health (OPH), CHEO, community pediatricians, Roger Neilson House, parent and youth partners, and family physicians are working together to bring pediatric expertise to wherever it’s needed most to support this age group.

“We want every child 12 and older and their caregivers who want a vaccine to get one. Easy access and equity is key,” said Megan Wright, Executive Director at Roger Neilson House and Director of Palliative Care at CHEO. “The Kids Come First Health Team is going swiftly into communities to reach and support people where they are. The more kids we can reach, the faster we can achieve #CommunityImmunity.”

“City-wide vaccine clinics are filling up which is great. But going ‘to’ families and making it fair and as easy as possible is key,” said Claire Dawe McCord, Youth Partner and Co-Chair of the Kids Come First Health Team. “This is crucial to getting life back to normal for everyone.”

The Kids Come First Health Team has a presence at most community vaccine clinics offered by the City of Ottawa and at CHEO for any youth whose medical needs cannot be served in the community. In addition, the Kids Come First Health Team supports pop-up clinics and participates in mobile outreach, removing access barriers. Pop-up clinic locations are continually added to the Ottawa Public Health website.

“We now know that this vaccine is safe for children and will help prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health. “OPH is a proud member of the Kids Come First Health Team and all of us working together will bring Ottawa closer to community immunity.” 

More than 400 pediatric experts from the Kids Come First Health Team are engaged during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to this age group. Professional care and support services are offered to children and teens on the autism spectrum or with complex, special care needs as required.

“Kids are not tiny adults, many have special needs or needle phobias that require the touch of a pediatric expert,” said Kathy Keely, Community Pediatrician. “We are bringing forward proven techniques that we use at COVID-19 testing centres and in our own clinics to help make every youth feel confident and safe during their immunization.”

Another priority focus for the Kids Come First Health Team is to support families to book second dose appointments through the provincial booking system, ideally prior to school starting in the fall.  

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About Kids Come First

The current health care model in Ontario connects everyone to an Ontario Health Team (OHT). The Kids Come First Health Team enhances other OHT’s by offering them pediatric expertise and working collaboratively with them to provide seamless care for children and youth. Over 60 organizations, family and youth partners, nearly 1,100 physicians, and thousands of individuals including children, youth and families comprise the Kids Come First Health Team. All are laser focused on connecting child and youth health services for better quality, faster access and easier transitions. For more information, see the original Health Minister’s announcement.