COVID-19 booster doses for children 5-11 available in Sask. on Wednesday

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Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, speaks to media on Aug. 19, 2022. (Alexander Quon/CBC - image credit)
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, speaks to media on Aug. 19, 2022. (Alexander Quon/CBC - image credit)

Children aged five to 11 in Saskatchewan will soon be able to get their third COVID-19 vaccine dose.

The province has announced that parents and guardians of children in that age range will be able to book appointments as of Wednesday morning.

It is recommending that at least four months should have passed since a child's previous shot before they get a booster.

"We should all have in our plans is get your booster if you haven't already," said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, on Tuesday.

"If you're not still vaccinated, you know, do consider getting your first and second dose whatever age you are."

Shahab said it is important for children to get vaccines as the third school year of the pandemic — and the first where childrne of all ages are eligible for vaccination —  is set to begin.

He stressed the importance of children who are at a high risk of serious COVID-19 illnesses getting their booster shot as soon as they are able.

"In the nine months now that the vaccine has been offered to children aged 5 to 11, again like vaccination in older age groups, [it has been] very safe and very effective, so getting vaccinated will help as we enter into the fall," he said.

How to get an appointment 

Appointments will be available online or over the phone by calling 1-833-Sask-VAX (1-833-727-5829).

The phone line for booking appointments will be available seven days a week 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. CST.

Pharmacies will also be providing COVID-19 vaccines for children. Participating pharmacies can be found online while walk-in clinics may also be available in specific location.

Indigenous Services Canada and the Northern Inter-Tribal Authority will be operating vaccination clinics in First Nation and Métis communities.

Rising hospitalizations

Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for the five-to-11 age group earlier this month. Shahab said the province needed time to workout details around supply lines before expanding eligibility.

He said the province is no longer warehousing vaccine doses and there is no shortage of the vaccines, which are the same dose as used for previous COVID-19 vaccines in the age group.

At this point, 43 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 in Saskatchewan have two doses. Fifty per cent of children have one shot, according to Shahab.

The expansion of booster doses comes after Shahab warned that masks could soon be needed again in more public spaces due to hospitalizations trending upwards in recent weeks.

Shahab confirmed that regional medical health officers are free to make their own rules this year and that they have been talking to schools about what support they may need.

"If you're sick, stay home, use rapid antigen testing if you're sick. But even if the test is negative, stay home till you're better," he said.

Shahab stressed that applies to staff, students and teachers in schools.

Shahab did not directly respond when asked about a potential return of mandatory masking in schools.

Instead he said that at this time masks remain optional.

"Obviously if someone wants to wear a mask, that's fine. If someone chooses not to, that's fine as well. I think every little bit helps," Shahab said.

Saskatchewan expanded eligibility for anyone over 18 to get a second booster dose on Aug. 15.

Children who are immunocompromised may have already received a third shot.

Tuesday's announcement now means they can receive their fourth dose four months after their previous dose.