Up to 48,000 Waterloo Region kids aged 5-11 to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

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The head of Waterloo Region’s vaccine task force says around 48,000 children from the area will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, once Health Canada lifts restrictions on that age group.

On Wednesday night, Vickie Murray told the Board of Health that a recent study from the University of Waterloo showed that 50 to 70 per cent of Ontario parents “are eager to get their children vaccinated.”

Murray believes this means between 24,000 and 34,000 children from the region will be expected for vaccine doses.

“When children’s doses are approved, they will be our priority. We have prepared our staff and our clinics to be able to provide family friendly ways to vaccinate the 5- to 11-year-old age group,” said Murray, who also serves as pharmacy director for both of Kitchener’s major hospitals.

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By prioritizing the first doses for children, she hopes the first rush of children’s vaccinations will be completed in two to maybe two, two and a half or three weeks. Then the task force will provide a variety of vaccination options to make the vaccine easily accessible for all Waterloo Region children.

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The task force has been working with the local school boards on plans to provide after-school and weekend clinics at schools in the area, she said

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“I would encourage parents to check out the region of Waterloo children’s vaccine web page for information on safe vaccination for children,” Murray offered.

“We are adding resources and education to that web page to help parents get the answers they need. We will continue adding information and education to help informed decisions.”

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On Thursday morning, Global News’ Amanda Connolly reported that Health Canada was expected to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 on Friday morning.

The night before Murray said local clinics, run by the region, had already extended their hours in anticipation of the eventual decision.

Some Canadian parents desperate to get their children vaccinated have resorted to taking them south of the border, where the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in kids aged five to 11 on Nov. 2.

There have been a handful of people under the age of 20 who have died from COVID-19 in Ontario, including one announced by the province earlier this week.

—With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly and Lesley Young

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