Sask. undecided on what proof of vaccination for children under 12 will look like

·3 min read
Paul Merriman says it is 'not practical' for parents to carry photo identification for their children as a part of a proof of vaccination. (Matt Duguid/CBC News - image credit)
Paul Merriman says it is 'not practical' for parents to carry photo identification for their children as a part of a proof of vaccination. (Matt Duguid/CBC News - image credit)

With Health Canada approving a vaccine for children aged five to 11, Saskatchewan's Health Minister says the government is still sorting out what it will require for proof of vaccination for children under 12.

On Friday, Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for children aged five to 11, saying it's more than 90 per cent effective against COVID-19 in younger kids.

Paul Merriman said he does not expect children to have to carry photo identification, or for their parents to do it for them. He said those under 18 do not have to carry a vaccine record if they have a parent with them.

"A parent can vouch for a child that is under the age of 18 that they are vaccinated."

Merriman said the government is discussing what should be required for proof and is looking at what other provinces plan to do.

"It's not practical for parents to have multiple photo IDs, so it's not something we think we need to impose on parents."

He said whatever qualifies as proof once children are eligible for two doses should not factor into the decision of parents to get their children vaccinated.

"We want to make sure that everybody does get vaccinated from the age of five and above," Merriman said.

On Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe said the government will likely extend its current health measures through Christmas. This would include indoor masking, isolation and proof of vaccination.

Health Canada said the two doses for children can be administered three weeks apart, but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending that the spacing between doses be increased to at least eight weeks, as evidence has been growing that a longer interval generates a more robust immune response.

Depending on the timing of the first doses and what is decided on the interval between the two shots, children may not receive both doses until mid- to late-January, giving the province and municipalities time to determine what any proof of vaccination policy should look like.

Earlier this month, doctors and pharmacists raised concerns about vaccine fraud. Dr. Carla Holinaty told Merriman during a question and answer session two weeks ago of allegations.

"We've heard stories of people stealing stocks of vaccine cards and filling them out fraudulently and selling them to people," she said.

Merriman said Wednesday that the province is sticking with all forms of accepted vaccination proof, including paper cards handed out after vaccinations.

"A lot of seniors and some people don't have the tech for a QR code, and we want to make sure that they do have another option in there," Merriman said.

"We heard loud and clear from the seniors."

On Monday, Alberta started requiring anyone wanting to enter a business to take part in the Alberta Restrictions Exemption Program. They must present proof of vaccination that includes a QR code.

Merriman said Minister Responsible for Seniors Everett Hindley was "very adamant that the seniors would be upset" if the province moved to a QR code-only system.

Merriman said Thursday that Saskatchewan is ready to distribute thousands of vaccine doses to children once shipments arrive.

Saskatchewan is slated to receive 112,000 doses of vaccine and will distribute them in 190 clinics in 100 communities across the province.

The province's update on case numbers on Thursday included a separation of total cases among children under the age of 12.

Previously, the government had combined those aged 0 to 19.

Of the 80,025 reported cases in Saskatchewan, 13,442 or 16 per cent of all total known cases throughout the pandemic have been children under 12.

Here's how the total cases break down by age in the province:

  • 0-11: 13,442.

  • 12-19: 9,601.

  • 20-39: 27,767.

  • 40-59: 18,306.

  • 60-79: 8,436.

  • 80 and over: 2,473.

Of the 89 new cases reported Friday, 18 are among children under 12.

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