Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health says the province will likely begin offering vaccinations for COVID-19 to children aged five to 11 early next year.
Dr. Robert Strang told reporters on Thursday that Health Canada is still awaiting a submission from the vaccine manufacturer Pfizer. After it is received, the regulator will have to review the submission and make a decision whether to approve the vaccine.
If it is approved, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization will make recommendations for the vaccine's use with children.
"Realistically, it's likely going to be early in 2022 before we're able to really start getting those five- to 11-year-olds vaccinated," Strang said. "If it happens a bit earlier I'll be very pleased, but I think being realistic, it's likely early 2022."
Strang said the province is planning to offer vaccines to children through the online booking system, with vaccines administered at pharmacies.
Vaccines won't be offered in schools
He said Public Health does not have the capacity to offer vaccines to children in schools.
"We would have to pull all sorts of people from other parts of the health system to do school-based clinics like we did for community clinics. That is not realistic," he said.
Strang said Public Health has also heard concerns from parents about the prospect of having their kids vaccinated at school.
"They do not want their their six-, seven-year-old being immunized alone in a school. They want to be there with their child," he said.
A spokesperson for the Health Department said a decision has not yet been made on whether vaccinations will be offered to all kids aged five to 11 at once, or whether it will be phased in for for different age groups within that range.
"Further rollout logistics remain under discussion and some will not be able to be finalized until certainty on timing and amount of vaccine delivery are received from the national operations centre," the spokesperson said in an email statement.
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