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Lecce calls on federal government to be leader on vaccine roll-out for children

Last Updated Mar 28, 2021 at 1:15 pm EDT

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Education Minister Stephen Lecce walk the hallway before making an announcement regarding the governments plan for a safe reopening of schools in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic at Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ont., on July 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario’s education minister is calling on the federal government to take the lead when it comes to “procurement and distribution” of vaccines for students and children.

In a letter to Ahmed Hussen, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, Stephen Lecce notes that results of clinical trials on the safety and efficacy of vaccines in children and youth will soon be available and that Canada needs to plan immediately so that it can be “the leader on vaccine rollout.”

“Vaccination of children and students will be a critical part of ending the pandemic and keeping our children safe,” writes Lecce. “Vaccinating children and students as quickly as possible will help ensure that the next school year is as safe as possible and that our childcare sector will be able to remain open.”

Lecce is calling on the government to procure “a robust supply of vaccine” from potential suppliers for children under 16 and “rigorously and rapidly review” vaccine submissions for approval.

Ontario premier Doug Ford has often been critical of the federal government when it comes to the delivery of vaccines.

Lecce points out Ontario is already laying the groundwork for pediatric vaccination so that they are “ready to act” when vaccines are eventually approved.

As of March 26, provincial health officials say more than 12,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in schools in Ontario — over 2,000 alone in the last two weeks.

Just over 20 per cent of all schools in the province are currently reporting a case of coronavirus, with 44 of them closed due to virus outbreak.

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