Ontario children aged five to 11 will be eligible to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments beginning on Tuesday (November 23).
On Friday, Health Canada approved the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, a modified formulation which is one-third the dose (10 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms) of the vaccine available for those 12 and older. The recommended interval between the two doses for full vaccination is eight weeks.
Ontario expects to receive over one million doses of the paediatric vaccine from the federal government, which will then be immediately distributed to public health units, pharmacies, and primary care settings across the province. This is enough vaccine to provide first doses to all eligible Ontario children aged five to 11.
“Offering the protection of the vaccine to children aged five to 11 is a significant milestone in Ontario’s fight against COVID-19 in advance of the holiday season,” says Ontario health minister Christine Elliott in a media release. “We continue to encourage all Ontarians to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”
As of 8 a.m. on Tuesday, COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children aged five to 11 can be booked through the COVID-19 vaccination portal at covid19.ontariohealth.ca or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.
The vaccine will also be available directly through public health units using their own booking system, through participating pharmacies, and through participating primary care providers.
In the Peterborough area, dedicated family-friendly paediatric vaccination clinics for children aged five to 11 will be offered at the Healthy Planet Arena (formerly Evinrude Centre, at 911 Monaghan Road in Peterborough) Mondays to Thursdays and in schools throughout the city and county. The first clinic appointments will be available starting Monday, November 29th.
Parents or caregivers of children aged five to 11 will usually have to provide consent on behalf of the child, either in advance or at the time of the vaccination appointment. Consent forms will be provided online and in paper at clinics.
Vaccine certificates with QR codes will be available for inoculated children, although there is no current requirement in Ontario for children aged five to 11 to show proof of vaccination.
According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), while most children infected with the COVID-19 virus have no or mild symptoms, some infected children may rarely develop severe COVID-19 disease and require hospitalization.
Infected children are also at risk of developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), following infection with the COVID-19 virus. MIS-C is a serious but rare event that can occur several weeks following infection.
NACI also says infected children may be at risk of a post COVID-19 condition known as long COVID or post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, although current limited evidence suggests the risk is lower in children compared to older age groups.
According to NACI, the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 90.7 per cent effective. Interim clinical findings did not indicate any serious safety concerns with the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. No cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the heart lining) related to the vaccine were reported. Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and NACI will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
The provincial government is encouraging parents, caregivers, and children who have questions about the vaccine to visit ontario.ca/covidvaccinekids, to call the Provincial Vaccine Confidence Line at 1-833-943-3900 or to visit COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service at sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult to book a confidential phone appointment with a SickKids clinician.