1st batch of COVID-19 vaccines for kids lands in Canada

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The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for children landed in Canada on Sunday, clearing the way for provinces and territories to gear up for the next phase of a national mass vaccination campaign.

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A UPS plane carrying thousands of pediatric doses went down in the rain at an airport in Hamilton, with Federal Procurement Minister Philomena Tasi on hand to mark its arrival.

Tassi clapped and cheered as workers lowered the massive gray container from the plane’s upper deck.

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The Sunday delivery is the first in an accelerated shipment of vaccines designed for children ages five to 11.

Health Canada announced Friday that it has approved a modified version of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in that demographic, and Ottawa immediately promised that some shots would take place on Canadian soil 48 hours later.

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Tasi said Friday that Canada will have 2.9 million doses by the end of the week, enough to give the first dose to every child in the newly approved age group.

Health Canada’s approval came after a month-long review of safety and efficacy data from the pharmaceutical giant.

The regulator says the vaccine, which is administered in a smaller dose than the adult version and has a slightly different formula, was 90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children and caused no serious side effects.

The provinces welcomed both the vaccine’s acceptance and imminent arrival, but largely barred from disclosing plans to inject the shot into children’s arms until supplies arrived.

New Brunswick issued a statement on Sunday saying it would expand vaccine eligibility to include children ages five to 11 once a supply of pediatric doses was received, but the province did not provide details. when is expected.

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Several public health units in Ontario did not update their rollout plans until Sunday afternoon, with regions including Peel, Windsor-Essex and Waterloo saying on Friday that appointments were expected to open earlier this week.

The area of ​​Durham said on Friday it expected to open the booking site on Monday, while Toronto Public Health issued a statement on Friday saying it expects to open 20,000 slots at immunization clinics operating in the city between November 25 and December 5. is preparing.

Manitoba was one of the few jurisdictions to release booking information before Sunday. The province announced Friday that parents and caregivers can begin first-dose appointments for eligible children by phone or online at 6 a.m. Monday.

Sean Sedlec, a father from Winnipeg, said he would try to make an appointment for his five-year-old son as soon as the slots open.

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Sedlec said he and his wife felt an “incredible sense of relief” on Friday when news broke that Health Canada had authorized a pediatric vaccine from Pfizer.

Sedlec and his wife booked an appointment earlier this year to have themselves vaccinated once they were eligible, and say they want to do the same for their only child.

“We really want to preserve her as much as possible,” he said. “I know the risk to young children is very low, but you can’t control what other people are doing. I just want to make sure I do as much as I can to keep my family safe.” I’ve been.”

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, parents are already able to pre-register their child for an appointment online or by phone. The province said more than 75,000 children had registered as of Friday, putting them on the list to be contacted for appointments when bookings opened.

Alberta announced a similar pre-registration program, saying the province should begin administering the shots later this week, provided the dose arrives as expected.

Saskatchewan is due to release details on Monday about its plan to vaccinate about 115,000 children aged five to 11. Health and education officials are working to set up clinics in schools, and Education Minister Dustin Duncan said last week the government is also working on a plan to make sure anti-vaccination protesters don’t turn up in schools because they are in hospitals.

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Meanwhile, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubey said on Friday that the province’s vaccination plan would be unveiled this week, raising hopes that 700,000 children in the approved age range would be vaccinated with their first dose by Christmas.

Some public health units are setting up vaccine clinics in schools and expanding existing mass vaccination sites. Pharmacies and family doctors’ offices are also expected to offer work in some jurisdictions.

Toronto has said hundreds of schools in Ontario’s most populous city will host clinics, but vaccines will not be given during class.

Children should not be vaccinated without parental consent.

Canada is hoping for quick delivery of doses the size of 2.9 million children, enough for the first time for every child aged five to 11.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children on October 29, and the United States has already vaccinated more than two million children.

Dr Samira Jamie, an allergist and immunologist at Western University in London, Ont., said it can be frustrating for anxious parents to be told they have to wait to book a vaccine appointment for their children.

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“I don’t blame the parents who are waiting on the edge of their seats like me,” she said in an interview on Saturday. “I understand from the point of view of trying to keep things organized, but I think we should have been really prepared to mobilize things.”

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