CALGARY — Children are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 infections according to new data in Alberta, with young people under the age of 19 leading the way in new cases per population.
One Calgary doctor is concerned about kids’ long-term health if they’re the ones getting sick.
“The sad reality is, as we relax restrictions and almost having no restrictions in place at the end of the month, this group, especially that 0-12 group, is just being left vulnerable to COVID,” said emergency doctor and Masks For Canada co-founder Dr. Joe Vipond.
“This group is still going to be impacted if those numbers continue to climb.”
As COVID-19 rates have dropped in the province, cases haven’t come down as dramatically for children and babies 0-4 or kids 5-19, who now have the highest infection rates in the province.
“They’re back in school and we know that we really haven’t upped in any way the protections that kids get in school.”
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COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada are not approved for kids under 12 and those in the 12-19 group are playing catch-up as they were last given eligibility.
Vipond says this means children are relying on adults to behave appropriately to protect them.
“Our kids don’t have as much of a voice. And I think some of our public-health leaders believe that because they are less likely to get severe illness and that the mortality is close to zero that it’s okay for COVID to just rip through this population,” said Vipond.
He adds some kids have developed long-term disabilities after contracting the illness.
While the full effects are still not known, studies out of the U.K. have suggested anywhere between two and 15 per cent of kids have long-term symptoms — a small but not insignificant number, according to Vipond.
“All of these factors suggest that kids, as they become predominant carriers of the illness, are going to suffer.”
Calgary City Council will debate Monday whether it’ll follow the province’s lead and lift the mask mandate in a few weeks. Vipond hopes to see the mandate in effect a little while longer.
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“The simple act of wearing a mask protects our children who literally cannot get the vaccines that are protecting the rest of us.”
His advice for parents is to keep up social distancing, gathering outside, and ensuring their child wears a mask that fits, or better yet, a respirator.