Appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged five to 11 in Ontario will open Tuesday, the province said Monday.
Spots will be available as of 8 a.m. ET. Appointments can be booked through the COVID-19 vaccination portal and contact centre; directly through public health units using their own booking system; and with participating pharmacies, which people can find by visiting Ontario's website and using the pharmacy locator. The vaccine will also be available through select primary care providers.
About one million children across Ontario qualify. To book an appointment, children must be turning five years old by the end of 2021, and born in 2016. The province is following NACI's advice and spacing doses out by eight weeks.
"We should be able to start getting shots into little arms by about Thursday this week," Health Minster Christine Elliott said at a Monday morning news conference.
About a third of Ontario's COVID-19 cases are now being found in school-aged children, she said.
"I think that speaks to the need of getting children vaccinated."
Canada received its first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines for children on Sunday evening, with a shipment landing in Hamilton, Ont.
The federal government and the pharmaceutical giant have agreed on an accelerated delivery of more than 2.9 million doses, scheduled to arrive by the end of the week. The delivery comes just a few days after Health Canada authorized the vaccine for pediatric use.
Ontario is expected to receive 1,076,000 doses of the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government, which will then be immediately distributed to public health units, pharmacies and primary care settings across the province.
As of Nov. 19, nearly 85 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 80 per cent have received a second dose, the province says.
OPP investigate spam texts linked to provincial booking system
In a brief email Monday, Ontario Provincial Police also confirmed officers are investigating reports of spam text messages being sent to people who have used the province's booking system for COVID-19 vaccine appointment bookings, or to access proof-of-vaccine certificates.
As this investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time," said Bill Dickson, acting manager of media relations with the OPP.
At a news conference Monday morning, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the province is "thoroughly" investigating any "potential" breaches, and to the best of her knowledge, no one has been scammed out of any money.
"We have confidence in the booking system right now," she said.
Province reporting 627 new COVID-19 cases Monday
Meanwhile, Ontario is reporting 627 additional COVID-19 cases Monday, with 341 cases found in people who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status, and 286 found in people who have both shots.
The seven-day average, which smoothes out peaks and valleys in the data, now stands at 656, which is the highest it has been since Sept. 23.
The number of hospitalizations in Ontario rose by 29 to 136 total, though the province cautions that not all hospitals report on weekends, so it is likely an undercounting of the real figure.
The number of people in ICU, meanwhile, dropped by two to 133, with 78 people using a ventilator to breathe.
Meanwhile, here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:
Newly reported deaths: One, pushing the official toll to 9,968.
Tests in the previous 24 hours: 19,552, with a 3.4 per cent positivity rate.
Active cases: 5,597.
Vaccinations: 6,488 doses were administered by public health units on Sunday. About 85.9 per cent of eligible Ontarians have now had two shots.
Ontario: New daily cases of COVID-19