N.B. opens COVID-19 vaccine appointments for young children

·3 min read
New Brunswick will begin vaccinating infants and preschoolers against COVID-19 next week, roughly three weeks after Health Canada approved Moderna's vaccine for children aged six months to five years. (Mary Altaffer/The Associated Press - image credit)
New Brunswick will begin vaccinating infants and preschoolers against COVID-19 next week, roughly three weeks after Health Canada approved Moderna's vaccine for children aged six months to five years. (Mary Altaffer/The Associated Press - image credit)

New Brunswick parents can now book an appointment for their children between the ages of six months and five years to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination clinics will begin next week, the province announced Tuesday.

Health Canada authorized Moderna's Spikevax vaccine for children in this age group on July 14.

Some provinces started offering shots last week.

Appointments for children aged two or older may be scheduled through a participating pharmacy or through a regional health authority's online booking system, according to the Department of Health.

Appointments for children under two must be scheduled through a regional health authority's online booking system, it said.

The government's COVID-19 vaccines website has been updated but still contains incorrect information.

On Monday, CBC News reported the website stated: "Currently, the vaccines approved in Canada are not approved for those under the age of 5," even though Spikevax had been authorized 11 days earlier.

Government of New Brunswick
Government of New Brunswick

As of Tuesday evening, the site now suggests only infants are eligible to be vaccinated.

"Currently, the vaccines approved in Canada are not approved for those aged 6 months and over," it states.

Sackville mother Rachelle Pascoe-Deslaurier has described having outdated, inaccurate information on the government's website as unacceptable, noting the site is "supposed to be their number one point of contact for people."

30% uptake anticipated

The province is anticipating an uptake of about 30 per cent throughout the summer, Dr. Yves Léger, the acting chief medical officer of health this week, told CBC News.

"We're hopefully going to be able to get more than that as well. But that's sort of our rolling number for now," for planning purposes, he said.

"Certainly, we always want to encourage every New Brunswicker that's eligible for their vaccine to get it. And certainly we feel that it is important for people who want to, you know, protect themselves from COVID and especially from some of the more severe outcomes related to the infection."

Garrett Barry/CBC
Garrett Barry/CBC

The province has received 6,000 doses of the pediatric Moderna Spikevax vaccine from the federal government so far, said Department of Health spokesperson Adam Bowie.

New Brunswick has approximately 35,000 children in the newly eligible age group, he said.

Asked when the doses arrived and whether that played any role in the delayed rollout, Bowie replied, "I don't have that information."

Another 11,500 doses have been ordered, he said.

"We will request more vaccine as required based on demand," he added in an emailed statement.

Children aged five to 11 have been able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine in New Brunswick since November.

As of Tuesday, 56.6 per cent of children in this age group have received their first dose, and just over 40 per cent have received their second dose, said Léger.

Public Health would like to see those numbers increase, he said, "to help us control COVID transmission, especially as we're coming into another school year, very shortly.

"We feel that it's obviously important that parents consider getting their child vaccinated for COVID. So certainly encourage those parents to seriously consider making sure their child is up to date."

Children under the age of 16 must have the consent of a parent or guardian to be vaccinated. A consent form is available online and at the clinics.

Parents or guardians can also call 1-833-437-1424 to book an appointment.

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