Toronto teen with diabetes pleads for government to begin vaccinating youth
Ainsley Harris, 14, has type-1 diabetes.
“My pancreas has stopped working and my body can no longer make insulin,” she said.
As someone with a chronic medical condition, by Health Canada’s standards, she’s considered a vulnerable population.
Her 12-year-old sister, Juliet, has a different condition but is at-risk too.
“I want to keep my kids safe,” their mother, Lindsay Harris, told CTV News Toronto. “For a type-1 diabetic any sort of illness comes with a lot of risk. A stomach flu can send her to the ER.”
Health Canada recently approved Pfizer for children ages 12 and up. Some at-risk kids in other provinces, including Alberta, have already received their first dose.
“The idea behind the first dose is it introduces your body to this pathogen and says ‘this is a problem, you need to make antibodies to this,” Dr. Colin Furness, epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, said.
Despite Health Canada’s vaccine expansion, Harris says her kids were turned away from a mass vaccination site in Toronto on Tuesday.
“They were like ‘No, we can’t. We can’t vaccinate them. They’re not 18,” she said she was told.
The Ontario government says it has a target date of June for youth vaccinations.
“This is extremely important. We want to make sure that our young people can receive the doses as soon as possible,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Ontario’s Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says the first dose offers a “very high percentage of protection.”
“As soon as we are able to have sufficient supply that we can expand to our adolescence,” she added.
Harris’ kids don’t like needles, but they want a vaccine.
“I do want to get it, because I know it will protect me from COVID-19 a lot and I think that’s really important,” Juliet said.
The family is asking for clear communication.