Area public-health officials get set to offer COVID shots to under-12s

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Southwestern Public Health is gearing up to offer third doses and vaccines to children under 12, upon provincial approval.

The public health unit for Elgin and Oxford counties announced Friday the expansion of its COVID-19 vaccine clinics, including a return to required appointments.

Starting Monday, Nov. 1, the unit will suspend walk-in hours and require residents to book appointments at all public health clinics. Additional pop-up and mobile clinics will be announced later.

Evening and Saturday vaccination options also will be offered once the province OK's COVID shots for kids aged five to 11, the unit said.

The move comes a week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada has enough doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children in this age group, following approval.

Ontario’s Health Ministry has not yet said when under-12s will become eligible for the jabs or when third doses will be made available, the health unit said .

“After Health Canada approves a vaccine, provinces and territories provide direction to health units for how to distribute vaccines locally,” Joyce Lock, medical officer of health, said in a statement. “Early planning is needed to ensure we get vaccines out to everyone eligible, as quickly as possible.”

Friday, Ontario's health minister announced the province will release its third-dose plan next week.

The unit also plans to expand capacity at its vaccine clinic in Woodstock and move its St. Thomas clinic to Memorial Arena's Auditorium Nov. 8.

cleon@postmedia.com

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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