COVID-19 vaccine clinics for Yukon kids to open in early December, premier says

·3 min read
'This is what we've been waiting for,' said Premier Sandy Silver, about Health Canada's approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for children. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)
'This is what we've been waiting for,' said Premier Sandy Silver, about Health Canada's approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for children. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says COVID-19 vaccines should be available to children aged 5 to 11 in the territory, starting in early December.

Speaking on Wednesday, Silver said first doses of the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech shot should arrive in Yukon "in the coming days," and online bookings will open later this week.

"This is what we've been waiting for," Silver said, about Health Canada's approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for children.

"This is absolutely welcome news and marks another milestone."

As of Wednesday morning, there were 121 active cases of COVID-19 in the territory. That's down from what's been seen in recent weeks, when the active case count was typically topping 150 on any given day.

Acting chief medical officer Dr. André Corriveau said there appears to be a "stabilization" in cases over the past week.

"What we're seeing this week is the beginning of what we hope will be a continuing and increasing downward slope in the daily case count, which tracks really well with the model we were using," Corriveau said at Wednesday's news conference.

Watch Wednesday's news conference:

Eight new cases were confirmed in the territory between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning.

Corriveau said Wednesday that community transmission was still occurring in Whitehorse, but he also said the reintroduction of public health restrictions a week and a half ago appears to be working as a "circuit-breaker."

"It did interrupt the exponential increase last week, and then we expect to see its great impact by this week, as it normally takes 10 to 14 days," he said.

Vaccine is safe for children, officials say

Corriveau also spoke about the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech shots as good news for the territory, saying it will help make schools safer and allow children to participate more safely in sports, play dates and other group activities.

The pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech shots provide a smaller dose of vaccine than is given to adolescents and adults and uses a smaller needle, he said. The recommended interval between shots is eight weeks.

Corriveau said it will help prevent children from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, or spread infection to others. Some children get serious lung infection from the disease, he said.

Corriveau acknowledged that some parents may have questions about side effects and the safety of the vaccine.

He said clinical trials have shown that side effects for children are similar to what some adults have experienced, and could include fatigue, headache, chills, fever, muscle aches, and decreased appetite for a day or two after a shot. He also said the majority of children will experience very little or no side effects.

Corriveau also said the U.S. is further along in administering vaccines to children, and there have been no "red flag" or reports of unexpected or serious adverse reactions.

Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada
Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada

"So that's also strengthened our confidence that this vaccine is going to be quite safe for children," he said.

Silver also touted Health Canada as the "gold standard" in research and safety.

"If it's been approved by Health Canada, it's safe, it's effective," Silver said.

The premier urged any hesitant parents to do their research, and to be careful about sources.

"We ask people to not get their information off of social media, we ask them to go to credible sites," Silver said.

"Talk to people that are respected in the medical community ... we believe that the information is out there, and these vaccines are extremely safe."

As of Monday, 86 per cent of all eligible Yukoners aged 12 and up had received at least two shots of vaccine, while 90 per cent had received at least one dose.

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