Quebec parents are jumping at the chance of having their children vaccinated against COVID-19.
Registrations on the Clic Santé portal began Tuesday morning for kids between the ages of five and 11 and by mid-afternoon, 80,000 appointments had been booked, according to Quebec Premier François Legault.
Legault unveiled details of the province’s vaccine rollout for kids Tuesday evening, following Health Canada’s authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the younger age group last week.
Legault said the province will begin administering shots as early as Wednesday in vaccination centres but vaccination in schools will only begin next week.
“It’s important to say that no children will be vaccinated in our schools without consent of their parents,” he said.
The premier said there are around 650,000 children in the five-1 age group in Quebec and the goal is to administer at least one dose of vaccine before the holiday season. Second doses will be administered after an eight-week delay, a similar dose interval as with vaccinations in the older age group.
While Legault admitted parents might be hesitant to have their children vaccinated he hopes they’ll overcome their fears.
“Scientists have made sure the vaccine is very safe for children,” he said. “They’ll receive a pediatric dose especially made for them.”
He also pointed to numerous advantages of being vaccinated including reducing the risk of kids getting sick after contracting the virus.
“Even though kids are less likely to get sick, we’ve seen some of them have severe symptoms and even long-term effects,” he warned.
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He added that it will also help keep schools open by preventing outbreaks.
Legault also brought emotions into play adding that with the holiday season approaching it will be possible for small kids to safely hug their grandparents.
That being said, Legault was adamant that parents and children should not feel pressured into getting the vaccine.
“We don’t want it be a situation where children are stigmatized because they have not been vaccinated and others have,” he said, but insisted parents find answers to their questions regarding the vaccine from reliable sources.
Legault also said that the province’s vaccine passport, required for those aged 12 and older to take part in certain activities, will not be applied to younger children.
Despite an epidemiological situation that is under control in Quebec, the premier said it was to0 soon to announce whether private gatherings with more than 10 people inside homes would be allowed for the holidays.
Legault said he preferred to monitor the situation and make an announcement at a later date, rather than having to backtrack.
Meanwhile, Quebec reported 699 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and five additional deaths linked to the virus, bringing the death toll since the start of the pandemic to 11,565.
Of the new cases, 416 are among people who are not vaccinated or less than two weeks removed from a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
To date, Quebec has recorded 440,462 infections and 422,571 recoveries for a total of 6,326 active cases.
The seven-day average for new daily cases is 728.
Pandemic hospitalizations decreased by one over the last day, with 16 people admitted to hospital and 17 discharged, for a total of 203. Of those, 46 are being treated in the ICU.
So far, 79.7 per cent of Quebec’s total population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine a number the Quebec government is hoping to boost after today’s announcement.