MLHU says COVID-19 vaccine rollout for 34,000 kids aged 5-11 would happen fast once approved

A nurse administers a vaccination to a child in this Friday, May 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Paul Vernon

London’s chief medical officer of health says children between the ages of five and 11 could start getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as December, depending on Health Canada approval.

The announcement was made during Thursday’s COVID-19 media briefing.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada has been working with Pfizer to provide 2.9 million COVID-19 shots for children once Health Canada approves the vaccines for children between the ages of five and 11.

“This may be available as soon as the beginning of December, give or take two weeks to a month,” Dr. Chris Mackie said.

Read more: London International Airport hopeful national vaccine passport will help travel industry rebound

Locally, the Middlesex London Health Unit estimates there are 34,000 kids aged five to 11 that would be eligible for the vaccine.

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Mackie said the rollout would be similar to the first wave of the vaccines, with the health unit using mass vaccination clinics at the Western Fair Agriplex and the Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges, with pharmacies helping as well.

“For our mass clinics that are currently walk-in, we would go back to an appointment-based system just because of the volume,” Mackie said. “It won’t be possible to have everyone show up on day one.”

He estimates it will take two to three weeks for the health unit to get through all children to ensure they have their first dose and the same when it comes time to give them their second.

Read more: Canada getting 2.9M COVID-19 shots for kids ‘shortly’ after approval

“Once the rollout begins, given the incredible uptick we have seen locally in the 12- to 17-year age group, I am quite optimistic this will be a real game-changer in what we all hope is much safer and more enjoyable winter,” London Mayor Ed Holder said.

Pfizer submitted initial trial data to Health Canada for its COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 earlier in October.

The company made its formal application this week, noting its clinical trials showed an immune response comparable to that observed in children age 12 and over, for whom its vaccine is already approved.

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Pediatric doses for those between the ages of five and 11 will be about one-third the size of the doses given to adults and teens.

Information on how to book a vaccine is available on the health unit’s website.

—with files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly

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