The moment many parents have been waiting for is almost here. Starting Tuesday at 8 a.m. CST, Saskatchewan parents can book an online COVID-19 vaccine appointment for children aged five to 11.
On Monday, the Saskatchewan government released details about how it will vaccinate the approximately 115,000 children in that age group, following Health Canada authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for children five to 11 on Friday.
The government said its goal is to reduce serious illness and death among all populations with its pediatric vaccination campaign. Children under 12 account for the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
"The addition of the vaccine for our five- to 11-year-olds puts us one step closer to ending the pandemic," said Sheila Anderson, the vaccine chief responsible for the Saskatchewan Health Authority's (SHA) COVID-19 immunization campaign.
"Together, by taking the right steps and supporting all those eligible to get them vaccinated, we can finish the fight against COVID-19."
The province's first shipment of pediatric vaccines is arriving Tuesday and Wednesday. The province said it expects vaccinations to begin Wednesday.
By the end of the week, the province should have more than 112,000 doses.
The SHA said COVID-19 vaccines for children will be available in 221 clinics in 141 communities and more than 100 schools.
Parents and students will receive information on in-school clinics directly.
Vaccinations will also be available from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) and participating pharmacies. Walk-in clinics will also be offered for added convenience, according to the province.
The Saskatchewan government website will have more updated information on locations of participating pharmacies when they receive their supply.
The province said there will be trained professionals on site to answer any questions or concerns from parents and children.
Dr. Tania Diener, lead medical health officer of immunization for the SHA, encouraged all parents to vaccinate their children.
"The fact that your kid doesn't have any chronic underlying conditions still does not guarantee that if your kid does get infected, they might not fall seriously ill or get complications," she said.
Sask.'s top doctor hopeful vaccine uptake will be high
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said he thinks the COVID immunization rate for children will be high, since parents in the province have a history of getting their kids immunized.
He said immunization rates for other childhood vaccines is between 90 and 95 per cent.
"Parents have always gotten their kids vaccinated for other vaccine-preventable diseases. COVID is just another vaccine-preventable disease now, so it is up to parents to be comfortable and get their children vaccinated," Shahab said.