TORONTO — The onus to vaccinate kids five to 11 against COVID-19 in Ontario has shifted to local public health units now that the federal government has approved Pfizer’s child-sized shot.
Health Canada gave the mRNA vaccine the green light for use in young kids today, and Ontario’s government says it expects to receive the doses within the week.
Public health units — which have been tasked with creating plans to vaccinate kids — are expected to set up school-based vaccination sites as supply becomes available.
Toronto Public Health, for instance, says hundreds of schools in the province’s most populous city will host clinics, but vaccines won’t be given out during class time.
The city will also set up “superhero selfie stations” to get kids excited about getting their shot.
Other public health units are also setting up education sessions for parents so they can get reliable information about vaccine safety.
“Health Canada’s approval of the paediatric Pfizer vaccine for ages five to 11 is encouraging news for the health and well-being of children across our province, especially as more people move indoors and attend family gatherings during the colder months this winter,” Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a joint statement Friday.
Experts have long anticipated the vaccine’s approval for use in young kids, saying it represents a milestone in the fight against COVID-19.
Once that age group starts getting their shots, the percentage of the population that’s susceptible to the virus will shrink.
It’s opportune timing, as COVID-19 cases surge in Ontario.
The province is reporting 793 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with four more deaths from the virus.
It’s the highest number of new daily cases since mid-September and pushes the seven-day average up to 625.
Elliott says 470 of the new infections are in people who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.
The province says 269 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital.
It says there are 128 people are in intensive care due to COVID-19, including 116 who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.
Provincial data show almost 89 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 86 per cent have two.