Kids 5-11 can now get their COVID-19 shots. What else changes?

·3 min read
Children ages 5-11 become eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose today in Ottawa. (Radio-Canada - image credit)
Children ages 5-11 become eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose today in Ottawa. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

Children ages five to 11 will start getting their COVID-19 shots in Ottawa today, and while some parents may have questions about the health and safety of the vaccines, they may also have some logistical queries.

Here's a list of things they'll want to know.

Vaccine passports

The Ontario government says it won't enforce a vaccine passport for children under 12.

Under the current rules, anyone 12 or older must show proof of vaccination for a range of activities including dining indoors and going to gyms, theatres or sporting events.

Travel

Currently, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children under 12 are exempt from quarantine when arriving in Canada if they are travelling with a parent or guardian who is fully vaccinated.

But there's a series of enhanced measures that unvaccinated children have to follow upon arrival, including staying home from school or daycare for 14 days.

Once a child is fully vaccinated, they no longer need to follow these enhanced measures, but will still need to follow testing requirements.

Canadians returning from international trips longer than 72 hours and foreign travellers entering Canada will have to show proof of a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of their departing flight or planned arrival at the land border.

Last week, the federal government announced it will lift those testing requirements for fully vaccinated Canadians including children under 12 returning from international trips shorter than 72 hours, but children under 12 who aren't fully vaccinated will still be required to stay home from school.

When will a majority of kids be vaccinated?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says it has the capacity to vaccinate all children between the ages of five and 11 — roughly 77,000 children in Ottawa — before the winter school break.

OPH made 60,000 appointments available once the provincial booking system opened for that age group earlier this week, and so far 30,600 appointments have been confirmed.

After a child has received a first dose, their parents will be able to book them a second shot. OPH will space pediatric doses by eight weeks, in line with the recommendations made by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Flu shots

The national vaccine task force does not recommend kids in this age group get a flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.

The government's official advice is that children shouldn't receive a COVID-19 shot within 14 days of another vaccine in order to monitor for any side effects from either shot.

In cases where a child's need for a vaccine is deemed urgent, a family doctor may recommend they forgo that 14-day wait period.

Vaccination coverage

The number of vaccinated residents has steadily increased since shots were made available to the public, although the pace in Ottawa has slowed in recent months.

So far, 88 per cent of Ottawa residents 12 and over have been fully vaccinated, and OPH expects to hit 90 per cent within that age group sometime in January.

OPH will begin reporting on the vaccination uptake among children under 12 next week.

Of the total population, including those who aren't yet eligible for a vaccine, 77 per cent is fully vaccinated. OPH says it can't yet predict when the city could reach a total vaccination level high enough to achieve herd immunity.

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