The Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) said it is ready to go as soon as the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for kids between the ages of five and 11.
On Thursday, Global News confirmed that officials at the health agency are expected to announce Friday that it has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canadian children within that age group.
Speaking about the pending announcement, MLHU’s acting medical officer of health said they are expecting the rollout will be fast.
“We have been holding appointments back in anticipation kids under 12 will be approved imminently, so there will be appointments available at the drop of a hat,” Dr. Alex Summers told reporters.
Summers said between 70 and 75 per cent of their upcoming appointments have been reserved for children to help get kids vaccinated as soon as possible.
A lot of the plan is dependant on when doses will arrive, but Summers is optimistic that once an announcement is made they will get doses for children with the week.
What parents need to know about COVID-19 vaccines for kids
The health unit is unable to use the doses of the Pfizer vaccines already on hand because the shot for children is a little different.
Summers said the dose for those aged five to 11 has a lower concentration of antigen, the part of the vaccine that increases the development of antibodies.
Summers also noted that they will likely not allow people under the age of five to get the vaccine, even if their birthdate is in the same year, unlike they did with children turning 12.
“That may change, but as kids get younger, the difference between someone just turned four or is five, is pretty substantial,” Summers said.
Once the vaccines arrive, the MLHU has the capacity to ensure all children five and up are vaccinated in a four-week time span, but that will depend on how many parents sign their children up.
“The mass vaccination clinics have been preparing for weeks in order to make (them) as child and family-friendly as possible,” Summers said.
Preparing young children to receive COVID-19 vaccines
Among the ways the health unit is trying to make getting vaccinated less scary is by introducing the vaccine superhero, who will be seen at some of the mass clinics.
“Our vaccine superhero is keen to have you join in fighting with them, in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” Summers said.
Summers said they will also allow for more time for each appointment and will have items on-site to help distract kids and make the process is less scary.
Those 11 and under account for more than 21 per cent of active cases, and have the largest percentage of cases per 100,000 compared to all other age groups.
In terms of vaccination rates, for those between the ages of 12 and 17, 83.8 per cent have at least one dose and 89.7 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Appointments for those 11 and under are not available yet, but when they are, people can find the information on the health unit’s website, where residents can also find information on pop-up clinics, mass vaccination clinics and pharmacies. Guidance for anyone vaccinated outside of the province or country; transportation support for those in need; and more.
Anyone looking to be tested for COVID-19 can find information about the locations of testing sites on the health unit’s website.
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