Will COVID-19 vaccines be available in schools? Manitoba's top doctor weighs in
WINNIPEG -- With the possibility of COVID-19 vaccines rolling out early next year, Manitoba's top doctor says making it available in the school system is something to consider, as schools are good venues to provide large-scale vaccinations.
Immunizations for HPV, Tetanus and Hepatitis B are done every year in Manitoba schools. On Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer, was asked if the province is looking at a similar method when COVID-19 vaccines are available.
"It will certainly be something that is considered," Roussin said. "We wouldn't take that off the table, that's always been a good venue to be able to vaccinate children."
But Roussin said logistics could be challenging as the early vaccines need to be stored at cold temperatures.
Winnipeg Pediatrician Dr. Stan Lipnowski said when it comes to the overall distribution of a vaccine, using doctor offices will not get it out quickly, and larger places like schools could work.
"If we can get the necessary person power to administer it, I think it would be very beneficial if we can enlist schools, pharmacies, other places, churches, gymnasiums," Lipnowski said.
He said record-keeping at a venue like a school would be required to keep track of who was vaccinated and who still needs it. He said there are downsides to the school setting as well.
"Kids come in late to get it, some don't show up that day at school, some kids just don't want to get it in front of other kids because they have a fear of needles and they don't want to break down and cry in front of their friends," Lipnowski said.
Roussin cautions even if vaccine doses arrive in Manitoba in early 2021, the first batches will likely be in short supply and given to those at most risk first.
"So at first, our targeting campaign is likely not going to involve school-aged children," he said.
Roussin said the province is working with the federal government and an advisory committee to figure out who those priority groups are and how to distribute a vaccine to them.