Saskatchewan parents will be able to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments for their children six months to five years old beginning this Thursday and Friday, while supplies last.
"I'm very pleased that today we can extend that protection to more members of our family," said Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, Saskatchewan's deputy chief medical officer, during a media event Wednesday.
The province will start booking appointments for immunocompromised children in that age range Thursday at 8:45 a.m. CST, the government announced Wednesday morning.
All bookings Thursday must be made by calling 1-833-Sask-VAX (1-833-727-5829). The province says you can also book appointments for other children six months to five years old in the same household at that time.
Bookings for all other children in that age range will open Friday morning, and bookings can be made online starting at 8:00 a.m. CST or by phone at 8:45 a.m. CST.
Kryzanowski said she urges parents to get their little ones vaccinated because COVID-19 is still a risk.
"Fortunately, the majority of children with COVID-19 have mild or asymptomatic disease. But some children, even those previously healthy, can get severe disease and require hospitalization," Kryzanowski said.
"In addition, children who have had COVID-19 disease are at risk of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children, and post-COVID condition and vaccination does protect against these serious outcomes."
Like many new parents, the pandemic has been hard for Darren Yankow. He has a two-year-old son who he's worked hard to keep safe from COVID-19. Yankow said he'll be booking an appointment first thing Friday morning.
"It's really exciting that he's going to have some protection soon," Yankow said.
He said the province left little protection for children by getting rid of vaccine and mask mandates.
"It is a very frustrating comparison to, say, even myself. I've had three doses already and I think my first dose was like May of 2021. So we've had protection for over a year, and the little ones have been forgotten about to a point."
Yankow said he's looking forward to going out for activities with his son, following the vaccination.
"Once he does have some protection, that's when [we'll] really start enjoying being able to go out, do a few more things. So hopefully he benefits from it in the future."
The province says it only has 13,000 vaccine doses for this first round of bookings. Officials said about 50 sites across the province will be offering the vaccines.
Saskatchewan Health Authority COVID vaccine lead Sheila Anderson said it's likely that the SHA will fully administer these 13,000 doses before the next vaccine delivery arrives in August.
Anderson said there are approximately 70,000 children in Saskatchewan's six months to five-years-old age category.
"If we looked at the uptake of our vaccine in our five years to 12 year old group, it's just over 40 per cent. And so if we thought about the same uptake percentage, around the 40 per cent, we're looking at around 35,000 doses of vaccine that we would need to meet the same coverage or uptake rate as the older children population."
A specific date for the arrival of more vaccines has not been determined yet.
Children who have had COVID-19 should wait eight weeks before receiving a vaccine, the province says.
Immunocompromised children should receive three doses, with four to eight weeks between each dose, while other children should wait eight weeks between doses, the province says.