Loading articles...

Outbreaks at Alberta child-care facilities leave parents with difficult decisions

Last Updated May 15, 2021 at 9:11 pm MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) — Alberta parents are facing significant challenges as outbreaks in child-care facilities soar.

The number of outbreaks in Alberta’s preschools and daycares have exploded from about 15 in February to 83 as of Friday, leaving parents wondering about what to do next.

“The rate of growth for daycares and preschools just outstrips anything else,” said data journalist Aryn Toombs. “And I honestly don’t know why that’s happening, it’s a bit of a mystery.”

Without vaccines, children are being left unprotected as the province bounces between reopening and restrictions.

“Rarely, but it does happen, children can get more significant COVID symptoms,” said Dr. Michelle Bailey, president of pediatrics for the Alberta Medical Association. “And for children, that can be respiratory disease with the cough, runny nose, and fever, that can lead to pneumonia. Some children have gastrointestinal symptoms as well, aches, chills, fatigue, those usual viral symptoms.

“When we’re talking about a new vaccine, like these COVID vaccines are, in general, (it) goes through a very careful process where adults are tested, first, and then testing happens on younger and younger children.”

As COVID numbers trend in the right direction for the wider population, many are hoping the province’s kids won’t be left behind.

“There are so many different factors here that, once addressed, can probably solve this pretty quickly,” said Toombs.

Credit: Aryn Toombs

On May 10, Alberta opened COVID-19 vaccine bookings to residents as young as 12 years old — just days after Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Canadians 12 and older.

Pfizer has been given to 2,300 children in a study that has not yet been published, but it appears the vaccine was safe in children.

“If those trials are successful, which we expect they will be, it will go through our Health Canada approval in making sure that that’s a safe vaccine for our kids.”

Bailey says that the next age group of slightly younger children is expected to be next in line for vaccines, and is hopeful that the future trials for preschool ages and infants will be successful.

Credit: Aryn Toombs