A person draws out Moderna vaccine during a drive through COVID-19 vaccine clinic at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. As the Omicron variant continues to strain Canadian hospitals, a vaccine hesitancy expert is voicing concern about the slow vaccination rate of children between the ages of five and 11. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Only 51 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 have had at least one vaccine dose

As the Omicron variant continues to strain Canadian hospitals, a vaccine hesitancy expert is voicing concern about the slow vaccination rate of children between the ages of five and 11.

In the two months since the approval of child-sized doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, only 51 per cent of children in that age group have had at least one dose.

That’s compared to more than 72 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds in the two months following approval for that age range.

Kate Allan, a post-doctoral research fellow at Centre for Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the University of Toronto, says while she had predicted parents would be slower to have their younger children vaccinated, the rate is even lower that she expected.

Preliminary data on national life expectancy from Statistics Canada shows the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to an average seven-month decline — the largest decrease recorded since 1921 when the vital statistics registration system was introduced.

COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in Canada in 2020, though Statistics Canada adds that the pandemic may have also contributed indirectly to a number of other deaths across the country.

The largest declines in life expectancy were observed in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, with the drop greater for men at more than eight months, than for women, at nearly five months.