The Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) will be mandating all eligible participants involved in minor hockey to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 31, according to a press release issued by the organization on Friday. 

The president at the OMHA Bob Hill said in a press release that the organization will be mandating COVID-19 vaccines to protect participants.  

“Our priority is getting our kids back to hockey this fall in as safe a manner as possible,” said Hill. “By taking an approach to control all that we can with mandatory vaccinations for all participants, along with continuing social distancing guidelines, we feel this is the best way forward to ensure a successful return to play this season and that we all benefit from what hockey has to offer.”

This vaccination policy will apply to players born in 2009 or earlier, team officials, game officials, association officials, OMHA officials, volunteers and instructors. The policy does not apply to players born in 2010 or later or to spectators. People will be required to show documentation to prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Despite the fact that COVID-19 poses a lower risk to children compared to adults, the Canadian government has authorized the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine for youth aged 12 and older. 

In a recent report by Public Health Ontario, the government agency revealed that more than half of all people sent to the hospital with vaccine-related heart issues were youth under the age of 25.

The OMHA said they do not want children in Ontario to miss any more hockey this coming season. A study from the OMHA suggested 83% of families mentioned their children playing hockey reduced feelings of isolation and benefited their mental health. 

The OMHA will grant accommodations to people who are unable to be vaccinated for substantiated medical reasons or for other protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Any people who are granted accommodations must undergo regular COVID-19 testing and have to provide evidence of a negative test taken no more than 24 hours prior to participating.

The Ontario government said in a press release on Wednesday that it will be implementing vaccine passports effective Sept. 22. Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training are included in the vaccine passport system, but not those for youth recreational sports. 

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