As expected with the weekend arrival of the new specialized Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccines for children in Canada, public health is wasting no time in getting the vaccines into the arms of youngsters aged five to 11 years.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts (PHSD) said it is ready to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 as early as this Friday, Nov. 26.
Booking for vaccine appointments began today at 8 a.m. The health unit advised that appointments can be booked through the provincial online booking system at covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine and through the local call centre at 705-674-2299 (toll-free: 1-800-708-2505). The call centre is open Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and is closed on statutory holidays, said PHSD.
The health unit also announced that special considerations are being given to host school-based clinics for children aged 5 to 11 attending special needs schools, select schools that service at-risk populations, and where schools may have reduced access or transportation concerns.
PHSD Medical Officer of Health Penny Sutcliffe said she was pleased to see the childrens' program move forward quickly because it was apparent that school aged children and their families were being impacted by the current COVID-19 surge. She said children will benefit from the extra layer of protection.
“Vaccination is in our children’s best interests. During Wave-4, and especially in recent weeks, the 5 to 11 age group has had a higher incidence of confirmed COVID-19 cases. As of this morning we have 15 active outbreaks related to schools, school buses and daycares," said Sutcliffe.
"Thankfully children’s rates of hospitalization have remained low, but with the Delta variant so easily transmissible in schools and families, I want us to do all we can to prevent infections and the complications of COVID infections such as myocarditis, long COVID and of course the collateral harms of school disruption and social isolation,” said Sutcliffe.
“There is limited evidence to date on the risk factors that make COVID infections more severe in children. However, there is strong evidence for more severe disease in adult populations if there are other underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, kidney disease and neurological disorders and for individuals with Down Syndrome. Let’s do all we can to protect all our kids.”
PHSD said there are some precautions parents can take before children get their shots. To make your child’s vaccination appointment a positive experience, please ensure they have had something to eat or drink before their appointment and that they wear a top that allows for easy access to the upper arm such as a loose-fitting top or a t-shirt, said a health unit statement. Public Health is aware that some children may be anxious and have a fear of needles. Immunizers are trained to help children have a comfortable experience.
Children born in 2016 or before will receive a pediatric vaccine dose of 10 micrograms (1/3 of the adult dose), said the health unit. This dose provides children with the same level of protection as the higher doses needed for adolescents and adults. It is important that children receive all recommended doses of the vaccine to build long-term protection against COVID-19. Children 5 to 11 years old are recommended to receive two doses, eight weeks apart for optimal, long-lasting protection, said the health unit.
Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com