Hamilton kids aged 5-11 are now getting Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Calgary, Alberta on November 23, 2021. Leah Hennel / AHS

Hamilton’s initial doses of the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have started to go into the arms of the children as the next step in the city’s inoculation plan began on Thursday morning.

Over 42,000 children are eligible for the shot according to public health and as of the morning of Nov. 25, over 5,500 have been scheduled into the city’s VERTO booking system.

The city’s COVID operations chief, Michelle Baird, says during this round of vaccinations, supply will not be an issue with Canada’s procurement of 2.9 million pediatric doses from the large-scale drug maker.

Read more: Child COVID vaccine clinics ramping up in Ontario

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The city’s strategy was built in consultation with McMaster’s Children’s Hospital which looked for the best family-friendly settings for doses, like Lime Ridge Mall and the Centre on Barton.

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The initial rollout has a three-month timeline with scheduled clinics from November to the end of January.

“The other piece I would add there is if you yourself haven’t received a first or second dose and you have your five- to 11-year-old booked, you can certainly walk in and get a dose of vaccine yourself, and we would encourage you to do that,” Baird told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

For the most part, bookings have been relatively seamless with only a few challenges for some parents and guardians who tried to book appointments via a mobile device, according to public health.

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Baird says the process is a rolling booking system with appointments becoming available every day, two weeks out.

“So we are filling appointments as they’re loaded,” Baird said.

Additional vaccines are available via separate bookings for the primary care clinic at the David Bailey Centre and the over 50 pharmacies in the city that have shots.

School-based clinics are generally not a part of the initial rollout due to the complexity of such a campaign requiring parents and guardians to be present of the shots, yet Baird says there will be some exceptions.

“We have a number of school vaccine clinics coming up, particularly focused on schools where the (vaccine) coverage might be a little bit lower than we would want.,” Baird said.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends a two-dose regiment administered eight weeks apart for effectiveness similar to an adult dosage.

Clinical trial data reported by NACI revealed the final two phases of the pediatric formulation involving 2,268 children produced “a good immune response” in 1,517 children aged five to 11 with an efficacy estimated at 90.7 per cent.

Over 83% of eligible Hamiltonians 12-plus fully vaccinated

Over the last seven days, Hamilton’s health partners administered just over 8,300 vaccine doses, with Friday recording the largest intake over the week — 1,556 shots.

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November’s average of 1,057 shots per day is slightly less than what was recorded for all of October, 1068, and farther behind September’s average of 1,488 per day.

Read more: Ontario reports 748 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths

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As of Wednesday, 83.1 per cent of eligible Hamiltonians over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated while 86 per cent have had at least a single dose. The city is still behind the provincial average, which sees 86.1 per cent fully vaccinated and 89.1 with at least one vaccine dose.

Residents aged 70 to 84 have reached the ministry of health’s target of 90 per cent first and second dose coverage, meanwhile Hamiltonians aged 25 to 29 represent the lowest vaccination rates of those eligible in the community at just 72.9 per cent fully vaccinated.

Hamilton is behind 31 other public health units in the percentage of two-dose vaccinations in Ontario.

Hamilton's weekly COVID-19 case rate up slightly

Hamilton’s daily COVID-19 case rate rose slightly day over day with public health reporting a seven-day average case rate of 22 as of Thursday, one higher than Wednesday.

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So far, for all of November, the city has an average case rate of 18 per day, slightly lower than the 22 cases per day reported in October.

Active cases were also up again to 204 as of Thursday, moving up 23 cases from the 181 reported Wednesday.

More than 67 per cent of all active cases are in people under the age of 50, while 42 per cent are under 30.

The city’s percent positivity rate – representing the number of tests returning positive from labs – has crept up a littl more week over week to 2.4 per cent from the 1.4 reported last week.

Hamilton’s number is closing in on the provincial average of 2.6 per cent reported on Thursday.

Since the pandemic started in March 2020, Hamilton has reported 25,670 COVID cases.

Read more: New report shows 6 fully vaccinated Ontarians under 60 have died with COVID since shots available

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There are nine reported ongoing outbreaks tied to 66 total cases across the city as of Nov. 25. The largest is at St. Peter’s Hospital which has 18 total cases  — four among staff and 14 among patients.

The hospital has reported one death in the surge. The city’s COVID-related death toll since the pandemic began is 419 as of Thursday with the latest involving a person over the age of 80.

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Of the schools in the midst of an outbreak, the Catholic board’s St. Gabriel Elementary on Barton Street in Stoney Creek is the largest of the five with cases tied to 13 students and one staffer.

In the last 14 days, both public boards combined have reported 47 cases with 37 among students.

Hospitals in Hamilton are reporting a total of 12 COVID patients as of Thursday, seven at Hamilton Health Sciences and five at St. Joe’s.

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