Sask. ordering 112K doses of COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11
The Government of Saskatchewan announced it has ordered 112,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine formulated for children aged five to 11.
The province expects to receive the vaccines in mid-November. At this time, there are not any COVID-19 vaccines approved for children under the age of 12 in Canada.
“Once this vaccine is approved by Health Canada, our intent is to provide the vaccine to all kids who would like to receive it, five to 11, in a safe, supportive and an efficient manner,” Dr. Tania Diener, Medical Health Officer responsible for immunization and physician co-lead of the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s (SHA) COVID-19 immunization campaign, said during a press conference Tuesday.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is in the process of developing a plan for delivery of the vaccine to children. It hopes to have the plan in place as soon as the vaccine receives approval from Health Canada for use in kids.
So far In October, 24 per cent of COVID-19 cases were among children under the age of 12. Since the start of September, nearly half of cases in children, 48 per cent, were exposed in a household setting, according to the Government of Saskatchewan.
While children are less likely to develop severe illness from COVID-19, the government said they are playing a role in the transmission of the virus.
“Vaccinations for children will enable them to continue to be able to go to school and enjoy their activities,” the province said in a news release.
The government notes that Pfizer studies show no safety concerns among children five to 11. Expected vaccine side effects, such as soreness, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and chills, were “well tolerated and resolved in one to two days.”
“Children in this age group have very good immune responses when they receive two doses as recommended,” the province said.
The clinical trials show 90.7 per cent vaccine efficacy in children following two doses, 21 days apart.
The shot will include a 0.2 mL dosage, which is 0.1 mL less than the dose currently in place for those 12 and older.
Sheila Anderson, vaccine chief responsible for SHA’s COVID-19 immunization campaign, said the vaccination process will have some new accommodations for younger kids.
“Most children of this age group will manage vaccines very well, however there are some portion of our young kids that will find that they become quite anxious,” Anderson said. “The physical and psychological safety of both our children and our parents and the families that come will be a really high priority as we roll out this program.”
Parents and guardians will be allowed inside the vaccination area to support children through the process.
Anderson said where available, therapy dogs or other attractions will also be used to help reduce anxiety. She added that clinical experts will be on site to answer questions from families about the vaccine.
The SHA will be offering paediatric vaccinations in approximately 190 clinics in 100 communities across the province. Families can be on the lookout for clinics in some facilities specifically directed at kids, such as libraries, community centres and schools.
“SHA is also working with our trusted partners and community agencies, local leaders, health system partners, social services and others just to increase uptake in this population,” Anderson said.
Appointments are not currently available, but booking options are expected to be communicated once the vaccine is approved by Health Canada.
All children in this age group will require parental or guardian consent to receive the vaccine. The SHA said consent forms can be signed at vaccine clinics.