Manitoba says it is ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines to kids aged 5 to 11, as soon as it gets the green light from Health Canada.
Officials said Wednesday they expect the federal approval to come by the end of November, and say it will take a little over a week for the shots to be ready to be administered province-wide.
“We are confident approval of the pediatric vaccine will come soon,” said Health Minister Audrey Gordon in a release.
“We encourage all Manitobans to start having family conversations now about how vaccination works and how it will help keep our families, friends and classmates safe and healthy.”
The province estimates the approval will open shots up to roughly 125,000 Manitoba kids.
Dosage for the 5-11 age group will be one-third of the Pfizer vaccine already available, officials said.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says there is no plan at the moment to require kids under 12 to be vaccinated to attend the province’s public spaces, unlike the vaccine proof needed by anyone 12 and over to get into cinemas, restaurants, concerts and major sporting events.
Dr. Joss Reimer, who heads up the province’s vaccine implementation taskforce, has said more than half of the 1,700 cases reported in youth since October 1st have come in the 5 to 11 age group, and vaccination may have prevented that.
Provincial polling data shown to reporters Wednesday shows overall, 75 per cent of Manitoba parents say they’re ready to have their kids vaccinated, 15 per cent aren’t yet sure, and another 10 per cent are a hard no.
If that provincial forecasting is correct — and three-quarters of eligible kids get the jabs — Manitoba’s overall vaccination rate would rise from 73 per cent now to more than 80 per cent.
The province says since March 2020, Manitoba has seen 6,091 cases in kids aged 5-11, Of those cases 27 were hospitalized, seven ended up in ICU, and one child died, officials said.
So far this year 13 school outbreaks have resulted in classes being moved to remote learning, according to provincial data.
Officials say shots for kids 5-11 will be available through several locations, including in-school without parents or guardians present, as long as parents or guardians give permission.
The shots will also be available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, vaccine super sites, as well as clinics set on First Nations and through urban Indigenous clinics.
Parents will be able to book a vaccine appointment for their child online, calling public health, or reaching out to a pharmacy or your primary care provider, officials said.
Currently, all Manitobans born on or before Dec. 31, 2009 are eligible to be vaccinated and everyone 18 and older is eligible for a third dose.
Health Canada said it had received a submission from Moderna for approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six to 11, Tuesday.
The regulator received a submission from Pfizer for its vaccine for kids under 12 on Oct. 18, 2021.
Latest COVID-19 numbers
Manitoba health officials reported 162 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths linked the virus Wednesday.
The new cases reported on the province’s online COVID-19 dashboard Wednesday bring Manitoba’s total active case count to 1,452 and the province’s five-day test positivity rate to 5.7 per cent.
The number of deaths reported on the site rose two to 1,276.
“Our trajectory is not in the right direction right now. We know that our health-care system is continually at risk of being overwhelmed,” Roussin said Wednesday.
Roussin said it’s too early to say whether more COVID-19 restrictions will be put in place for the holiday season as infections continue to increase.
As has been common in recent weeks, Southern Health region saw the largest one-day jump in cases Wednesday, with 57 infections reported.
Another 46 cases come from the Winnipeg Health region, 27 were found in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 16 were reported in the Northern Health region and 16 were found in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
Health data shows 94 of Manitoba’s latest infections are among people who had yet to be vaccinated, five were partially vaccinated and 63 were fully vaccinated.
Officials say there were 152 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 reported as of Wednesday morning and 30 patients in intensive care units as a result of the virus.
Health data shows 2,811 tests for COVID-19 were performed Tuesday.
A provincial site tracking vaccination efforts shows 87.2 per cent of eligible Manitobans have received one shot of vaccine and 84.4 have received two doses.
But vaccine uptake has been considerably lower in parts of Southern Health, where 68.8 per cent of those eligible have been immunized as of Wednesday, according to the site.
Since March 2020, Manitoba has reported 66,009 COVID-19 cases.
Health officials reported 99 new COVID-19 cases and one death linked to the virus Tuesday.
–with files from The Canadian Press, Leslie Young and Skylar Peters
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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