Parents knew Monday how soon their youngest children could get an appointment for a COVID-19 injection as shipments of the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine made their way across the country.
Ontario parents heard they could begin scheduling appointments for eligible children ages five to 11 starting Tuesday. The doses were expected to be administered on Thursday, the province said.
“Offering vaccine protection to children ages five to 11 is an important milestone in Ontario’s fight against COVID-19 ahead of the holiday season,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.
The province said that about a million children will be eligible.
He hopes to get 1,076,000 doses from the federal government. Just over 400,000 were due to arrive on Monday.
One third of the new COVID-19 cases in Ontario are in school-age children.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said earlier this month that children under the age of 12 account for the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections.
Parents in the prairie provinces were eager to reserve vaccines for their children after months of rising infections and extreme pressure on health care earlier this fall.
More than 15,000 appointments were made in Manitoba on Monday afternoon, just hours after they became available. There are about 125,000 children who are eligible and the doses were expected to start taking arms by the end of the week.
“These vaccines cannot come soon enough,” said Dr. Marcia Anderson, medical leader of the Manitoba First Nations pandemic response team. He said that enough vaccines for some 15,000 children would be shipped to First Nations by the end of this week.
‘Significant milestone:’ COVID vaccine plans for children are rolled out across the country. #CDNPoli # Covid19
Saskatchewan expected about 112,000 doses to be administered Tuesday, nearly enough for the province’s 115,000 children who are eligible. The vaccines, expected to begin the next day, will be available at community clinics, schools and pharmacies.
The province was hit hard by the fourth wave of the pandemic with an increase in cases and hospitalizations. Some COVID-19 patients were transferred out of the province for treatment when intensive care units were overwhelmed.
Infections have started to stabilize, but Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said the arrival of vaccines for younger children will provide more protection.
“Immunizing this age cohort will also help reduce transmission of the virus and ensure that children can continue to enjoy their friends and activities,” Merriman said in a statement.
Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney encouraged parents to vaccinate their young children. Vaccines were due to begin arriving in the province on Monday and the children were expected to receive a puncture later this week.
Alberta opened online pre-registration for children to receive vaccinations in October. More than 390,000 youth will be eligible for vaccines.
Kenney defended his government’s plan to administer the vaccine through clinics. He said few students received vaccinations in schools when the vaccine was offered to older youth.
The Pfizer vaccine was previously licensed for anyone 16 years of age and older and, in May, it was approved for those 12 and older. The pediatric version for children ages five to 11 is a smaller dose, which officials say is common in all types of children’s vaccines.
Many provinces have said they are making sure their vaccine implementation plan is child-friendly, with more time to administer doses in quieter spaces and cubicles or family compartments, so parents can provide support.
Most have said they hope to be dosing children by the end of the week.
Quebec Prime Minister François Legault said his government would provide plans on Tuesday. Officials previously said the goal was to administer a dose to the roughly 700,000 children eligible for Christmas.
The fourth wave is having a greater effect on children because they have not been able to get vaccinated, said the Board of Medical Directors of Health.
Children have also felt the significant impact of school closings and cancellations of activities forced by the pandemic, the group said in a statement.
“With pediatric vaccination, we now have an additional protection option for school-age children against COVID-19,” he said.
“In addition to continuing to practice individual public health measures, this option can help them safely participate in the activities that matter most.”
This Canadian Press report was first published on November 22, 2021.
– With files from Steve Lambert and Brittany Hobson in Winnipeg and Dean Bennett in Edmonton