Liberals would add COVID-19 shots to school vaccination lists, Del Duca says

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Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca has said he would add COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of mandatory vaccinations for school children if elected premier.

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“If elected, the Ontario Liberals will make the COVID-19 vaccine for children part of the universal list of vaccines needed for children to attend publicly funded schools across Ontario,” said Del Duca. Saturday during a campaign stop in Ottawa.

The Ontario Schools Immunization Act was passed in 1990 and lists nine mandatory immunizations: pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal disease and varicella (varicella).

“We’re going to add the Covid-19 vaccine to that list and we’re going to do that because the science is settled on that,” he said.

“We know that vaccines help our children.”

Only 40% of Ontario children ages 5 to 11 have received both doses of the vaccine, he said.

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It’s a bet for the Liberals. In Ottawa, 84% of the population has received at least two doses of the vaccine, with about 65% in the 5-11 age group. But mandatory vaccinations have been a polarizing issue and a key driver of protests like the three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa.

Asked about the risk, Del Duca accused Conservative leader Doug Ford of being “weak on science and weak on vaccines” and addressed the “fringe elements” of his base.

“There are about 100 days left until the start of the next school year and I don’t want the children to be at risk,” said Del Duca, who has two young daughters. “I also don’t want frontline education workers to be at risk.”

Current exemptions from existing legislation would apply to the COVID-19 vaccine, he said.

Del Duca was scheduled to travel to Kingston for events on Saturday afternoon, before returning to Toronto for a meeting with supporters on Saturday evening.

Correction: Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says there are “about 100” days left until school starts. An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect number.

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