Peel Region youth aged 12 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccines starting Thursday

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Youth aged 12 and older in Peel Region can book COVID-19 vaccines starting Thursday, joining other health units that are building plans to start vaccinating teenagers in the coming weeks.

The mayor of Brampton, Ont. — one of the three communities in Peel — announced the expansion on Wednesday.

Mayor Patrick Brown said youth in that age band who live, work or attend school in Peel Region will be eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech shots, which are authorized for youth in Canada.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,588 new COVID-19 cases, 2nd day in a row cases are below 2,000

He said expanding eligibility is “welcome news” in the hard-hit region that has been a hot spot for infections throughout the pandemic.

“The more people we get vaccinated, the sooner we’re going to get back to normal,” Brown said.

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Youth aged 12 to 15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to their appointments.

The local expansion follows a provincewide widening of vaccine eligibility on Tuesday that allows all adults to book shots.

Ontario has said it plans to open vaccine booking to all youth aged 12 and older starting the week of May 31.

But the government allowed public health units to vaccinate kids aged 12 and up at pop-ups, mobile clinics and for walk-in appointments where the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is offered starting Tuesday.

Lambton Public Health opened vaccine access to that age group on Tuesday to encourage families to get vaccinated together.

Timmins, Ont., is planning a “vaccine blitz” that will offer shots to all residents 12 and older this weekend, as the local health unit deals with a record surge in COVID-19 cases that’s prompted a state of emergency in the northeastern city.

Drop-in and by-appointment clinics running Friday through Monday will use the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr. Lianne Catton, the region’s top doctor, said 1,200 spots are available and encouraged people to share information about the clinics.

Read more: Ontario may not take regional approach to reopening, solicitor general says

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“Make no mistake we need everyone to stay home as much as possible, leave home for only essential reasons and follow the measures to stop the spread and get us out of this surge of cases,” Catton said in a statement Wednesday. “However, vaccination of many community members across the ages is a tremendous opportunity to get there sooner.”

Health units in the Guelph, Ont., and Chatham-Kent areas, meanwhile, are asking youth to pre-register for vaccine appointments to be contacted for appointments as they become available.

Chatham-Kent Public Health said it’s working on a plan to run clinics for the 12 to 17 age group starting in mid-June.

In Toronto, some pop-up clinics started offering shots to youth aged 12 and older on Tuesday.

The city’s top doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said there will be more such initiatives in the next few weeks.

She added the city will also have appointments dedicated to youth vaccination the weeks of June 14 and 21.

Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories have already started offering vaccine appointments to the 12 and older population.

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