Saskatchewan

'I'll feel safer now': Sask. begins vaccinating kids aged 5 to 11 in Regina, Saskatoon

There was excitement and relief among many Saskatchewan families on Wednesday as their five- to 11-year-old children rolled up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 16,000 pediatric vaccine appointments booked, health ministry says

Drew Peppler, 8, got his first dose of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine on Wednesday in Regina. (Trent Peppler)

It was a big day for eight-year-old Drew Peppler, who was one of the first through the door to get his COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic in Regina.

The clinic, at the former Costco location on Victoria Avenue, was packed with families excited and relieved that their children were receiving the long-awaited vaccine. 

Saskatchewan's vaccination campaign for children five to 11 kicked off on Wednesday in Regina and Saskatoon, with the province expanding to other communities and regions through the week.

Peppler was a bit nervous to get the shot, but said he had a coping mechanism: scrunching his toes to distract himself.

It was a success, with the Grade 3 student getting both his COVID and flu shots.

His mom, Jacqui Kennett-Peppler, said she was excited her son could finally be vaccinated.

"Knowing that kids in that age group, the five- to 11-year-olds, [make up] a lot of our cases right now and having them unprotected has been a big concern for us and our family," she said.

That was certainly a worry for 10-year-old Isla Sandomirsky, who contracted COVID-19 in September. 

She and her dad were also among the first people at the clinic in Regina.

"I'm nervous but I'm really excited because I'll feel safer now," Sandomirsky said before getting the vaccine.

Sandomirsky's mother, who's a teacher, also contracted COVID at the same time. 

Isla Sandomirsky, 10, and her dad Jon Sandomirsky. (Omayra Issa/CBC)

As of noon on Wednesday, more than 16,000 pediatric vaccine appointments have been booked in the province, according to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health.

Heather Hynes, a mother in Saskatoon, was able to snag appointments for her six-and-nine-year-olds early Tuesday morning, before the province's booking system briefly crashed. 

"I wanted to get it done right away just to make sure that they're protected and so that they can't transmit it to other people that we see in our lives, such as their grandparents," she said.

"And that they're able to stay in school and stay doing the sports that they love doing."

Her children got vaccinated at the Prairieland Park vaccination hub, which was decked out with balloons, colouring sheets and superhero stickers.

Six-year-old Carlin Armstrong holding up a 'I'm a hero fighting against COVID-19' sticker after getting a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. (Heather Hynes)

Parents can book appointments on the Saskatchewan Health Authority website or through the SaskVax phone line. 

By week's end, the province is expected have more than 112,000 vaccine doses available, nearly enough for all children in the five to 11 age group to receive their first dose.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yasmine Ghania is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan, currently based in Saskatoon.

With files from Omayra Issa

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