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Prepping for return to school, onus now falls on families to get vaccinated against COVID-19: Dr. Cushman

Just 37 per cent of children between the ages of five and 11 are vaccinated in Renfrew County.
2021-11-26 ottawa child vaccination clinic OPH8
Ottawa Public Health child COVID-19 vaccination clinic, November 2021. Photo/ Ottawa Public Health

Healthcare institutions are suffering and the acting medical officer of health for the Renfrew and County District Health Unit says COVID-19 vaccination rates in his region are not good enough as kids get set to return to in-person learning.

Dr. Robert Cushman tells CityNews' The Sam Laprade Show that just 37 per cent of children between the ages of five and 11 are vaccinated in Renfrew County, and the age group between 20 and 50 is also lagging behind on third dose vaccines.

"It's sort of like, 'Hey, come on. If you want your children back in school so they can learn and you can go back to work, bring the entire family in and get vaccinated,'" the doctor explained, Tuesday, January 11.

In the City of Ottawa, more than 63 per cent of kids 5-11 have received their first COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Cushman says everyone who wants kids back in school on January 17 needs to take the responsibility of getting vaccinated seriously.

"To me, there's a real emphasis there, or an onus, on the part of the families to take this responsibility in hand. To not only protect their children, but to protect the schools and their jobs."

Meanwhile the acting medical officer says local hospitals and long-term care homes are struggling to function, even at reduced capacities. 

"A lot of it is something you and I could do -- delivering treys and feeding people and other things like that -- just to keep the activities of daily living going," said Dr. Cushman.

"I, frankly, would like to see the province just, sort of, stop schooling for healthcare workers at the college, and at the university level and deploy them all to these three settings. Whether you'd be a nursing student, a medical student, a [personal support worker (PSW)] student, or a paramedic in training -- what an opportunity to make a contribution we desperately need and to get some hands-on experience early in your career," the doctor suggested.

Dr. Cushman says he's never seen hospitals and homes functioning this poorly and he hopes this period is short-lived.

Listen to Dr. Cushman's full conversation with Sam Laprade:

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