REGINA -- Parents will now have to be present for the COVID-19 vaccination of elementary school students in schools, according to a new policy change from the Government of Saskatchewan.

Parental consent forms were previously considered adequate for elementary students beyond grade four.

“Opposed to other vaccines, this one has a lot of misinformation around it,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said.

“We want to make sure that that child is getting that vaccine and the parent is comfortable. We don’t ever want to give the perception that we are giving COVID-19 vaccines behind parent’s backs. That’s why we are asking them to be there up front.”

NDP leader Ryan Meili said treating this vaccine differently than others sends the wrong message.

“But this is what you get. We have an education minister right now who refuses to say that every kid should get vaccinated, refuses to promote vaccination for kids,” Meili said.

The NDP fear that requiring parents to attend school for their children’s vaccine will result in fewer children participating. The health minister hopes not and expects it might even encourage some parents to get vaccinated while they’re there.

Kelly Basaraba is a Prince Albert Parent who believes parents should be present in schools when their children get vaccinated.

“Yes, I think it’s a very good idea that parents should be with their children while they’re getting the needle. They’re not old enough to decide and be there by themselves," she said.

The last-minute policy change saw parents at Vickers School in Prince Albert informed with just a day’s notice.