13 N.B. pharmacies ready to give COVID vaccines to children 2 to 5 years old
More pharmacies will be added, health clinics will handle children under 2, says association executive
About 20 pharmacies will be vaccinating preschoolers against COVID-19, according to the New Brunswick Pharmacists' Association.
The province's website lists 13 pharmacies offering appointments for children aged two to five, as of Thursday, but more will be added in the coming days, said executive director Jake Reid.
"So it's really a handful of pharmacies compared to, for instance, the adult group," he said.
More than 180 pharmacies offer COVID-19 vaccines to adults.
Public Health and regional health authority clinics will handle vaccines for children between the ages of six months and two years, said Reid.
Pharmacies aren't authorized to vaccinate children under two. Until last year, their scope of practice was limited by the College of Pharmacists to children five and over, he noted.
"So some may not feel that [two to five is] an age group that they are particularly competent in working with," he said.
"It takes a certain special expertise to be able to give vaccinations to that youngest age group."
It can also take extra time if a child is upset about getting a needle, for example, or if a parent wants to discuss the safety of the vaccine, Reid said.
"And sometimes pharmacies just aren't able to do that," on top of all the other vaccinations, dispensing of medications and other services they offer, he said.
Vaccination clinics for children aged six months to five years will begin the first week of August, the province announced Tuesday.
Health Canada authorized Moderna's Spikevax vaccine for this age group on July 14.
Parents and guardians of children under two may schedule an appointment for them through through a regional health authority's online booking system, or by calling 1-833-437-1424.
Appointments for those aged two to five may also be scheduled through a participating pharmacy.
If people looking to book don't see any openings right away, Reid advises trying again later.
Public Health is "opening up new clinics all the time," he said.
"They're monitoring daily the number of appointments that are being booked, and where they see in a particular area where there's a lot of appointments, and there's not as many left over, then they'll put in new clinics.
"So just check back frequently and you can usually get a spot within just a couple of weeks."
People should bring their children's Medicare card to the appointment, he said. Consent forms are available onsite.
Reid also recommends bringing their children's favourite toy or something else to keep them distracted while they get their shot.
With files from Shift