Vaccine appointments set to open to Alberta’s children next week

CALGARY –

Barring massive federal shipment delays, Alberta’s children will have the opportunity to get vaccinated as soon as next week. 

Health Canada authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine for those ages five to 11 on Friday, giving the regulatory green light to Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose shot.

In Alberta, CTV News has learned bookings will likely come online Wednesday or Thursday, with shots being administered the following day. 

They’ll almost exclusively be given out in Alberta Health Clinics, save for in areas without a facility nearby. 

Some experts say it could be an effective way to roll out the paediatric immunizations. 

“I think it’ll just be faster,” VaxHunters’ Sarah Mackey said. “Distribution wise, if you’re taking one twentieth of your total vaccines to 20 different clinics around the province, that’s always just going to take less time than delivering fewer doses to pharmacies.”

Other provinces have opted to administer shots in schools, family doctors offices and in pharmacies. 

But even with an expected early demand bump, supply won’t be an issue: something some believe makes a clinic distribution advantageous. 

“But I think after that we are going to want to shift to a strategy that makes it a little bit more accessible and is less concerned about just sheer volume through the door,” Mackey said. 

The first Pfizer shipments will be enough to supply the country with a first dose for every eligible Canadian child, according to former procurement minister Anita Anand.

“The feds have sourced enough paediatric vaccine for every 5 to 11 year old in this country already,” public health physician Dr. Jia Hu said, “so we’re not going to have the shortages that we had in the spring.”

“We are well-prepared to administer doses to children as soon as their parents and guardians are ready to book,” Health Minister Jason Copping added. 

The pediatric doses that will be offered to younger children will be one-third of what has been offered to those ages 12 and above. 

Health Canada had been prioritizing the review of Pfizer’s submission to use its vaccine in those ages five to 11 since Oct. 18, and a similar review is ongoing for Moderna’s two-dose mRNA vaccine for those ages six to 11. 

According to Health Canada’s authorization, clinical trials have shown that the Pfizer vaccine was 95 per cent effective in protecting trial participants from COVID-19 for those 16 years and older, 100 per cent effective for those 12 to 15 years old, and 90.7 per cent effective for those five to 11 years old.

If those under 12 received another vaccination — such as a flu shot — within two weeks, it’s recommended they hold off on the COVID-19 vaccination until a 14 day window has passed. 

The federal government has procured 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

More information from Alberta’s provincial government is expected early next week. 

For information about vaccine safety and effectiveness, or to pre-register a child for a shot, visit Alberta.ca/vaccine.

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