York Region's new medical officer of health is encouraging families to get their children COVID-19 vaccines as they become available to kids aged five to 11 this week.
Dr. Barry Pakes said in a Nov. 22 update that it is a great step toward ending the pandemic and keeping the community safe. He said the region has worked with health-care partners for weeks getting ready to vaccinate the region’s approximately 91,000 children.
“It is critically important to protect your children. The vaccine will protect your children,” he said. “Not only from illness, but more importantly for many parents, once your children are fully vaccinated, they will not need to isolate if they are exposed to COVID-19. And they will be able to gather safely and continue to attend in-person school, including extracurricular activities.”
Health Canada approved a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children on Nov. 19. The vaccinations will require appointments, which York Region will open at 8 a.m. tomorrow, Nov. 23. Pakes said they expect to start vaccinating kids by Nov. 26, when shipments of the vaccine come in. The vaccine requires two doses that must be taken a minimum of eight weeks apart.
Pakes said appointments will be available at pop-up clinics and community clinics throughout the region. They also plan to host clinics at local schools throughout the coming weeks, at least until holiday closures.
The rollout plan includes measures to address anxieties for children. Pakes recommended that you bring a toy, device, or another comfort item that may help your children throughout the vaccination process.
“Please know that every effort is being made to make sure the vaccination process is as comfortable as possible for children and families, including support to reduce anxiety and vaccine-related fears,” Pakes said. “Our vaccination staff have been trained in working with children and are here to help and support you.”
Pakes was confirmed into the role Nov. 19, taking over from acting medical officer of health Dr. Richard Gould. Gould will return to an associate medical officer of health role, which he served as before Dr. Karim Kurji’s retirement.
He encouraged people to follow health protocols, with cases increasing as people move indoors for colder weather.
“Children five to 11 represent one of the last groups in our community who have not yet been eligible for vaccination,” he said. “When we protect them, we also protect their families and the community as a whole.”
You can book an appointment online for a child vaccine at york.ca/COVID19Vaccine or by calling 1-877-464-9675 starting tomorrow. If you have questions on the COVID-19 vaccine for children, you can speak to a York Region Public Health nurse at 1-800-361-5653.