Manitoba

Manitoba pharmacists call for change of regulation that only allows them to immunize people 7 and up

The organization representing Manitoba pharmacists is calling on the province to change a regulation that only allows them to immunize people age seven and older in time for the anticipated approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children age five and older.

Pharmacists Manitoba wants to avoid confusion when Ottawa approves COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 and up

A pharmacist draws up a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Manitoba pharmacists want to be able to immunize young children when they are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The organization representing Manitoba pharmacists is calling on the province to change a regulation that only allows them to immunize people age seven and older ahead of the anticipated approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children age five and older.

Pharmacists Manitoba is calling on Health Minister Audrey Gordon to sign off on an order of council that will lower the age minimum to five from seven.

"We envision many families being frustrated by the fact that their seven-year-old can get vaccinated at a pharmacy, but the five-year old-cannot," said Tanjit Nagra, the CEO of Pharmacists Manitoba.

"Being that pharmacies and pharmacists are the most accessible health-care professionals in our province, I think it's vital that they're able to to offer this service to the community and ultimately to help ensure a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines to pediatric patients and children."

Nagra said this move would bring Manitoba in line with other provinces, including Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., which allow pharmacists to immunize children age five and up.

A provincial government spokesperson said the health minister has received the request from Pharmacists Manitoba and it's currently being reviewed.

Nagra says Pharmacists Manitoba have scheduled a meeting with Gordon for later this month, but hopes the changes can be expedited.

Pharmacists and family doctors have given just over 122,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the province's vaccine dashboard.

Last month, Pfizer asked Health Canada to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old.

The next week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country was going to receive nearly 3 million more doses of the vaccine for the anticipated approval.

South of the border, the United States' Centre for Disease Control has already approved the vaccine for the age bracket.

As of Friday, 86.9 per cent of eligible Manitobans have had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 83.9 per cent have had both.

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