Quebec makes vaccine available to teens, starting this week and expanding through schools in June
Pfizer vaccine approved by health authorities for those 12-17
Teens in Quebec can receive a vaccine as early as Friday, May 21 at family drive-through sites in Montreal, and will be able to book appointments at clinics next week.
For two weeks in June, from June 7 through 18, vaccination campaigns will be organized with schools.
In some cases, teams of vaccinators may arrive to inoculate students. In others, shuttle buses may take students to a nearby vaccination centre.
"Everything is set in place so that young people can get their first dose, easily and quickly, before the end of the school year," Health Minister Christian Dubé said at a news conference Thursday.
Health Canada and the province's vaccination committee have approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 12-17 years of age.
Clinical trials suggest it is highly effective against COVID-19 among that age group.
However, at the airport clinic, a sign posted on Friday indicates that only adults can be vaccinated because they are giving out Moderna, which is not cleared for use in teens.
The province is aiming to have a second dose available to that age group around the time they return to school in late August.
Parental consent is required for children under the age of 14.
Dubé said parents will be provided with all the necessary information and consent forms ahead of the school vaccination campaign.
12-17 year-olds can get vaccinated in Quebec starting Friday at family drive-through clinics, then next week at clinics. Wider vaccination campaign will take place through the school system in June. <a href="https://t.co/6kEbQe0xPd">pic.twitter.com/6kEbQe0xPd</a>—@benshingler
A 'sense of social responsibility'
There are roughly 530,000 children in this age group, which represents six per cent of the Quebec population. Dubé said making the vaccine accessible to teens is a crucial step in taming the pandemic.
Dubé said if students get vaccinated by mid-June, they will be ready for their second doses in August and that should mean a return to school under near normal conditions.
Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Montreal Children's Hospital, said all available evidence suggests the vaccine "worked very, very well in preventing symptomatic infection and there was no safety signal that was any different from anything we've seen in adults."
He said vaccinating that age group — traditionally a highly social one — will help slow down the rate of transmission. That will likely play a major role in motivating teens to get a shot, he said.
"As a pediatrician, I can tell you, one of the characteristics of adolescence can be altruism and that sense of social responsibility — that idea that they can chip in to help at a larger level then just themselves, is important to appeal to in kids," Papenburg said.
"Even perhaps at a more direct level, I know a lot of adolescents who've been concerned about getting infected and bringing it home to their parents."
With files from Sarah Leavitt