This is part of a continuing series of recommendations put out by CoVaRR-Net. These recommendations are directed to the local and provincial Medical Health Officers, Urban Public Health Network, Variants of Concern Expert Panel, and school boards.
The current environment of the COVID-19 pandemic is very fluid. Some of these recommendations may soon be out of date.
Barriers to accessing vaccination sites and booking vaccination appointments have been shown to negatively affect vaccine rollouts.
Obstacles for parents getting their children fully immunized have been identified and include the following: inconvenient and limited clinic hours for immunization, inadequate access, vaccine administration fees, confusing vaccine schedules, and the inconvenience of the vaccination process.
Administrative burdens, such as inadequate information about vaccine eligibility or vaccination sites, have been found to cause long-term harm in a population and specifically vulnerable groups, by excluding them and reducing overall vaccine uptake, as well as by eroding social solidarity.
There is strong evidence for effective interventions such as home visits, vaccination programs in schools and organized childcare centres, and vaccination programs where women, infants and children receive nutritional support and other services.
Providing vaccine clinics in familiar settings for children and youth is recommended. Out of all locations, schools provide the broadest and most equitable community reach.
School-based vaccination clinics have been used for other vaccination rollouts in the past in all Canadian provinces and territories. This approach can aid in reducing both healthcare costs and out-of-pocket costs for clients, thus, improving vaccination rates.
Most jurisdictions in Canada made the pediactric vaccine available for all those aged 5-11 years old at the same time. However, the City of Toronto prioritized 30 neighbourhoods, using a health equity approach, which CoVaRR-Net supports.
At the federal level:
- Require the reporting of standardized data across jurisdictions on vaccine administration and accessibility strategies.
- Fund research to explore vaccine accessibility, vaccination enablers, and barriers for uptake, especially for marginalized children across Canada.
At the provincial and territorial levels:
- Work in collaboration with school divisions/boards to establish school-based vaccination clinics to ensure equitable community access.
- Invest in infrastructure to enable surveillance, monitoring and evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine administration for children ages 5-11.
- Reduce barriers to booking vaccinations, as well as barriers to accessing vaccination locations, by offering booking centrally through multiple modes, including online and telephone systems as well as in-person options.
At the local and regional levels:
- Provide vaccination clinics in familiar settings for children and youth. Allow families to be vaccinated together during one appointment.
- Consider providing alternative options for vaccination locations for children with medical, physical, cognitive, or psychosocial needs/conditions (for example, at home, and in hospitals and facilities that provide additional assistance or accommodation).