EDMONTON – COVID-19 was one of the contributing causes of the recent death in Alberta of a child under the age of two, the province said Tuesday.
The news came on the same day Alberta officials announced that parents will be able to start booking vaccination appointments for children ages five to 11 this week.
Alberta’s chief health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, addressed the boy’s death at a news conference.
“While I will point out that this child had complex pre-existing medical conditions that played a role, this does not lessen the tragic loss of one so young,” Hinshaw said.
Hinshaw announced that Alberta had identified 253 new cases of COVID-19 over 24 hours, along with 10 deaths, including the toddler. There are still 475 people receiving treatment in the hospital, including 94 in intensive care.
Beginning Wednesday, Albertans will be able to begin booking appointments for children ages five to 11 to receive Pfizer’s infant-size vaccines. Appointments will begin on Friday, the province said. About 394,000 pediatric doses for the province arrived this week.
“I suspect this is good news for many parents who will be logging in early tomorrow morning to reserve their children’s vaccinations,” said Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney.
People have been able to pre-register and there had already been more than 40,000 pre-registrations as of Tuesday.
The prime minister said parents who have concerns about their children’s vaccination should speak to a trusted medical professional.
“The Alberta government is not imposing any kind of deadline on families … because we don’t want people to feel rushed or pressured,” Kenney said.
“The pandemic has been a difficult time for all Albertans, and the youngest children and their parents are certainly no exception.”
Children ages five to 11 are not expected to show proof of vaccination at Alberta businesses, authorities said.
The first and second doses for children should be spaced eight weeks apart, the province said.
Hinshaw said the province’s immunization advisory committee has also decided to recommend that all Albertans should wait eight weeks between the first and second doses of the mRNA vaccine.
“Evidence shows that a longer interval between doses can result in a greater effectiveness of the vaccine that can also last longer,” he said.
After experiencing an overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases during the summer and early fall, Alberta has seen a decline in recent weeks.
“This is another important day in our fight against COVID 19,” Hinshaw said. “I believe expanding vaccine eligibility for these young children will help us further limit the spread of the virus, which in turn will help prevent Albertans of all ages from experiencing severe COVID-19 outcomes. “.