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Alberta premier defends plan to not make vaccines mandatory in schools

Last Updated Nov 18, 2021 at 8:41 pm MST

A nurse loads a syringe with vaccine for injection in Victoria, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2004. Statistics Canada says a high percentage of two-year-old kids have been vaccinated against a variety of childhood diseases and most parents believe such shots are important. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is defending his government’s plan to not make it mandatory for kids in Kindergarten to Grade 12 to have their COVID-19 vaccine if they want to go to class.

It comes a day before Health Canada could approve Pfizer’s vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.

RELATED: Health Canada to approve Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids on Friday: report

Kenney says he’s glad the federal health agency did not rush this vaccine through.

“Given the extremely low risk of severe outcomes to younger children, it’s very important that they be it’s about the safety of the vaccines in weighing the balance of risks and benefits,” Kenney said Thursday.

He says the province is prepared to roll them out once they’re approved, and it will provide information to parents.

RELATED: Should Alberta students aged 5-11 have the option to be vaccinated in schools?

Kenney says it’s not fair to make the vaccine mandatory for school children.

“If for one reason or another, parents choose not to have their children receive a COVID-19 vaccine, that should not be held against their kids.”

He adds, the education act clearly states school boards have a legal obligation to give children access to the classroom regardless of their health status.

Alberta Health is still planning its vaccine roll-out for children aged five to 11 in anticipation of vaccines being approved for that age group, but the question is being raised whether or not kids will be inoculated in schools.

The department says Alberta Health Services (AHS) is preparing Public Health and Health Link in advance of a decision on vaccines for kids aged five to 11.

In a statement to CityNews Calgary, Alberta Health says parents can register their children who are under 12 years old on the Alberta Vaccine Booking system, but they cannot actually book a vaccine until they are approved by Health Canada.

-with files from Saif Kaisar