Manitoba

Impending rollout of COVID-19 vaccine to kids welcome news for many parents

News that Manitoba will allow pharmacists to give the COVID-19 shot to kids between the ages of five and 11 once it receives federal approval was welcomed by many parents, as well as teachers and health workers.

Others say they will wait to see how the rollout goes before getting their own kids vaccinated

Teachers and health workers in Manitoba are eagerly awaiting the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for kids five to 11 years old. (Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press)

News that Manitoba will allow pharmacists to give the COVID-19 shot to kids between the ages of five and 11 once it receives federal approval was welcomed by many parents, as well as teachers and health workers.

"I think it's just wonderful news," said Lauren Hope, a parent, teacher and co-founder of Safe September, a group that advocates for greater COVID-19 protection in schools.

On Wednesday, Premier Heather Stefanson said the province would be prepared to roll out vaccines for the youngest eligible children within a week of the doses arriving in the province. 

Health Canada is expected to approve the vaccine by the end of this month, with recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expected to follow. 

It's important that there are as few barriers as possible to parents getting their children vaccinated, Hope said.

"First of all, we all know that getting kids to do anything can be really hard, and particularly convincing them to get a jab in the arm for others," she said.

"I also think that we really need to have this as widely available in all of Manitoba, and that can happen if we get it out to the pharmacies in the rural areas because they don't always have public health offices that are close by."

Hope also welcomes the news as a parent.

"Knowing that my is still-unvaccinated child is soon going to be vaccinated, and around many other students who will be vaccinated, is really the light at the end of the tunnel for us," she said.

Other parents who spoke to CBC News expressed relief that their kids could soon get the vaccine.

"We'll get it done as soon as we can, however it's doled out. Through a doctor or at the school, we'll find a way to get it done," said Jeope Wolfe.

"We're really excited about it," said Carmen Ponto. 

"We think it's really important as a step to keep our kids safe and to keep everybody else safe who's around us."

A 'godsend'

Dr. Eric Jacobsohn, critical care physician and anesthesiologist, called the impending arrival of children's doses "a godsend."

Jacobsohn is part of a group of health experts pushing the province to ensure proper ventilation in school buildings, out of concern over the airborne transmissibility of the virus.

"A lot of these problems related to school ventilation, is rooted in the fact that many of those kids are totally vulnerable to becoming infected, even though asymptomatic," he said.

"It's going to have a huge impact."

Not all parents CBC News spoke to planned to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible.

Prasanta Paul and his wife both received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Paul says his wife had a mild reaction to it, which has made them concerned about what it might do to their five-year-old son.

"We haven't decided yet. It would be good that my kids are immune to this deadly virus but we are really concerned," he said.

"We will just wait and see. We're going to take a little bit of time."

Danielle Nippert is also fully vaccinated, but intends to wait and see how the rollout to kids goes before making a decision about getting her daughter vaccinated.

"When it comes to my children I think I'll be putting it off for a little bit just to see how it goes."

With files from Cameron MacLean, Holly Caruk and Meaghan Ketcheson

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