Ottawa Medial Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches is cautiously optimistic about the fall given climbing COVID-19 vaccination rates in the city, the low number of hospitalizations due to the virus, and a vaccine coming soon for children between the ages of five and 11.
The doctor addressed Ottawa parents in a letter on Friday, asking for continued cooperation to keep kids -- and in turn, families -- safe from COVID-19 as we get deeper into fall and people spend more time indoors.
Part of that means limiting close contacts.
The other part will be getting eligible children vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
Ottawa Public Health anticipates announcements from the federal and provincial governments in the coming weeks that will make COVID-19 vaccine available for children aged five to 11.
"I know families will have questions about the vaccines and we are working with community partners to make sure that you have all the information you need when COVID-19 vaccines are available for your children," said Dr. Etches. "Planning is underway, and we will be ready to offer approved vaccines when they are supplied to us."
The doctor continued, "I urge everyone who is eligible for their COVID-19 vaccine to get fully vaccinated. This will help to protect you, your family and the community. The higher the vaccination rates are in our community, the better chance we have of protecting those around us and keeping COVID-19 levels in the community and schools low."
Ottawa's vaccination goal is to see at least 90 per cent of its eligible population inoculated.
"Vaccination can also help to reduce the burden on families; it helps parents and guardians get to work and students stay in class. When parents, guardians and students are fully vaccinated, they most often do not need to isolate after being exposed to COVID-19," Dr. Etches added.
As of Friday, seven Ottawans were hospitalized with COVID-19 -- five of whom were in intensive care. The health unit was also monitoring ongoing outbreaks at seven schools.
For more information on COVID-19 testing centres, vaccine clinics and what parents can do when an outbreak is declared at their child's school, visit ottawapublichealth.ca.