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Head of Surrey Schools hopeful as B.C. prepares to unveil COVID vaccine plan for kids

Last Updated May 18, 2021 at 6:52 am PDT

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

B.C.'s top doctor says plan to vaccinate British Columbians as young as 12 years old to come later this week

Surrey Schools superintendent says vaccinating children could mean summer will be 'much more normal'

Surrey school district one of the hardest hit by COVID-19; superintendent says vaccinating students will be game changer

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – B.C. is expected later this week to lay out its vaccination plan for children between the ages of 12 and 17, and the head of the Surrey school district can’t wait for that time to come.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Monday that plans are expected to be unveiled in the coming days.

Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney, who is in charge of the largest school district in the province, says students could begin getting their first shots by the end of June, marking a major milestone.

“It also means that we can look towards not only a summer that looks much more normal but a fall that really is a return to life just as we once knew it,” he said in a video posted online.

“For parents and for students, please look for information this week — likely mid-week — about how to register your child to be vaccinated, should you wish them to be.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by Health Canada on May 5 for emergency use in children as young as 12. Health Canada’s updated approval was effective immediately, giving provinces and territories the green light to begin putting plans together.

B.C. announced the same day that it would offer the vaccine to children in the approved age group, saying kids could receive shots by the end of the school year.

Tinney points to the impact of teachers and other school staff getting vaccinated, saying case counts among adults in Surrey schools have dropped dramatically since that effort began.

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The Surrey school district has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. It’s seen a slew of positive cases that have created challenges during an already unprecedented year.

“What we’ve seen in our staff is absolutely the same thing, just a plummeting in the number of cases of staff members who are reporting as positive with COVID,” Tinney explained. “When I look back in the first 10 days of May, we had seven adults reporting that they had tested positive with COVID. Since then, since May 11th, we’ve only had two. We’ve had four days when no one has reported positive with COVID, so clearly the vaccines are working.”

Tinney is hopeful this decline will continue.