WINNIPEG — Manitoba is preparing to move rather quickly on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for children aged five to 11 once it’s approved by Health Canada.
Pending federal approval and the recommendation of the National Advisory Council (NACI), the lower-dosage Pfizer vaccine will be available to approximately 125,000 kids in Manitoba.
The first doses of the pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to be available in the province as early as one week after the vaccine is approved.
The vaccine would be offered through provincial and regional vaccine clinics, physicians’ offices, pharmacies, urban Indigenous clinics and pop-up community clinics. Walk-ins will be an option at some locations and in-school vaccinations will be offered in the coming weeks, both during and after school hours.
A policy change has also been made to allow pharmacists to administer the vaccine to all eligible children against COVID-19 and influenza. Previously, pharmacists could only vaccinate children ages seven or older.
“Although children and youth are less likely than adults to get critically ill from COVID-19, they can still get sick and spread the virus to others at school and in the community,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force.
“COVID cases are rising in Manitoba and the majority of new cases are now among children who haven’t had the opportunity to be immunized. This vaccine is being rigorously tested and reviewed. That process has been careful, with no steps being missed, and we’ll be ready.”
More than 16,000 cases of COVID-19 have been in children and youth in Manitoba, while one-quarter of eligible 12-17 year-olds aren’t fully immunized. Since October 1, there have been 1,709 cases of COVID-19 in children, with just over half of those in kids ages five to 11.
The province is also preparing to re-launch its #ProtectMB campaign with kids in mind. New colourful graphics and youth-focused sticker designs will be targeted to the younger population to encourage them to get vaccinated.