Ontario soon will move to the next phase of its H1N1 immunization plan by getting the swine flu vaccine to school-age children.

The word comes from Toronto’s medical officer of health, who says the province will likely announce the new plan Friday.

Dr. David McKeown says the city is working closely with school boards to organize the campaign, but adds vaccination programs will not take place in schools.

He says parents will instead be asked to go to physicians or to public health clinics, and adds Toronto clinics will be ready to immunize children as soon as the provincial announcement is made.

Ottawa’s public health unit is also saying it expects the province to add school-age children to the priority list as early as this week.

Provincial officials would neither confirm nor deny the expanded program, saying only that Ontario’s chief medical officer of health will likely hold a briefing Friday.

Priority groups — such as pregnant women and children between six months and five years of age — have been the focus of vaccinations over the last two weeks. But there have been concerns about getting school-age children their shots as well.

McKeown says Toronto Public Health considered setting up clinics in schools, but decided against it for two reasons.

He says there are about 1,000 schools in Toronto and it is inefficient to hold that many small clinics. McKeown adds that in order to ensure the vaccination process is as safe as possible, it is preferable that health workers speak with parents in person and obtain their consent.

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