PEI

COVID-19 vaccine appointments for P.E.I. children 5-11 to come by end of next week

P.E.I. will start giving the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages five to 11 soon.

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for elementary school-age children. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

P.E.I. will start giving the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages five to 11 soon.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said community clinics will start taking vaccination appointments for children in that age group by the end of next week. 

"It's another important tool, another important step in managing the pandemic," she said.

On Friday, Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the age group. Previously, only those who were 12 and over could get the shot.

Children without any contraindication will be able to get the two doses with an interval between them of at least eight weeks, which means they won't be fully vaccinated until spring.

The first shipment of the pediatric vaccine, which will be around 12,000 doses, is expected to arrive to the Island by the middle of next week.

"There'll be enough vaccine for all children who want to be immunized," Morrison said.

Information on the location of the clinics and how to book an appointment will be made available to parents on Nov. 23.

Morrison said plans for the vaccinations at school clinics will likely come next week as well. Only children with consent forms signed by their parent or guardian will be allowed to receive the vaccine at school.

"In this fourth wave, children under 12 have had the highest rate of COVID-19 across all age groups. We also know that throughout the pandemic we've seen the impact of all these public health measures. In some provinces, they've gone extended times without in-class learning, there have been limits on extra-curricular activities and isolation. All these things have affected the mental and physical well-being of children and families," Morrison said.

"So I think for many ... they're really looking forward to having this chance to have children in that age group vaccinated."

She said she expects some parents to be hesitant and take a while before they get their children vaccinated, but that over time the majority will do so.

"I think some of those concerns are very normal," she said. "But at the same time this is a vaccine that has now been given to millions of adolescents and adults. It has a different formulation in that it has smaller number of micrograms in each vaccine."

Morrison said children won't be included in the Vax Pass program for a while, as they won't be fully vaccinated for the next few months.

With files from Steve Bruce

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