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COVID-19: Pfizer vaccine available to Ontarians aged 12 to 17 beginning May 31

A man runs past people in the age group of 60-64 as they line up to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccinations at the Shoppers Drug Mart at Danforth and Coxwell, in Toronto on March 11, 2021, exactly one year to the day that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin

Ontarians aged 12 to 17 years old will be eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine beginning May 31, the province announced Thursday.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at the same time he extended the stay-at-home order to June 2. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams were at the press conference, as well.

Family members of those aged between 12 and 17 who have not received a first dose will also be eligible to book an appointment. There will also be special dedicated youth and family clinics throughout the weeks of June 14 and 21.

Read more: COVID-19: Doug Ford extends Ontario’s stay-at-home order until June 2

Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine from those 12 and older on May 5. Up until that point, it had only been approved for those aged 16 and older.

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Pfizer said its vaccine was found to be safe and effective and produced robust antibody responses in 12- to 15-year-olds in a clinical trial in April.

“This is the first vaccine authorized in Canada for the prevention of COVID-19 in children, and marks a significant milestone in Canada’s fight against the pandemic,” said Health Canada’s chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma at the time.

The province said it hopes to offer both the first and second doses for Ontarians between 12 and 17 years old by the end of August, prior to the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.

“Expanding vaccines to youth 12 and up will bring us one step closer to normalcy for our students,” said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce in a release on Thursday. “We are focused on delivering a safe, stable, and well-resourced learning experience with an additional $1.6 billion in resources to protect students and school communities in the 2021-22 school year.”

Students have been in remote learning since the April Break (the delayed March Break). Ford said students will remain in remote learning during the stay-at-home order extension.

When asked whether schools will reopen in June, Ford did not give a firm answer.

Read more: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for Canadians 12 and over, Health Canada says

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The decisions surrounding vaccines and youth are being supported by the Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Table. The idea is that this group will be eligible to receive their shots from mass vaccination clinics, community or school pop-ups and pharmacies.

“The spread of COVID-19 continues to pose a significant threat to our health care system and the well-being of Ontarians,” said Jones. “While we have made great strides, extending the Stay-at-Home order is essential to protect our communities, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.”

With files from Rachel Gilmore

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