On Nov. 19, Health Canada officially approved COVID-19 vaccines for children between the ages of 5-11. Several thousands of children in this age category have already received their first shot as of this week, including my son who received his vaccine at the Thompson Regional Community Centre. I want to especially thank all the front-line workers at the vaccine clinics, from immunizers to navigators and everyone else, for their tireless work and efforts to get Manitobans vaccinated. I am so relieved that my son is now better protected and will be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks, and he is thrilled to be able to do more of his favourite activities and hang out with friends again safely.
I, along with health care professionals across our province and the world, encourage every parent to get their child vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. The vaccine for both adults and children has undergone rigorous testing and was found to be safe and effective.
Right now, children under the age of 12 make up a third of COVID cases in Manitoba, and COVID is continuing to disrupt our children’s education. Manitoba has declared as many COVID-19 outbreaks in schools within the first seven weeks of this school year as it did in all of the previous school year. That is why getting children vaccinated is so crucial. It will not just prevent kids from severe outcomes, but break up chains of transmission that we see in communities that lead to large outbreaks and school closures.
Our First Nations have been hit especially hard by COVID during this pandemic, in part due to issues such as inadequate access to healthcare, overcrowded housing, and other factors such as poor ventilation in schools due to chronic underfunding. Children up to nine years old have had the most active COVID-19 cases among First Nations, and children between the ages of 10 and 19 are the second-most affected age group, so this vaccine can’t come soon enough.
I want to send a special shoutout to our First Nations pandemic response team for their tireless work and success in rolling out the vaccine campaign in First Nations communities! They will be hosting vaccine clinics at local health centres, in schools or at community centres.
All parents can also make an appointment online with an email address and health card number, or by phone at 1-844-626-8222. Health officials recommend parents looking to book vaccine appointments for two or more children should book by phone, as it’s faster when making multiple appointments.
As always, contact my office anytime at Danielle.email@example.com or 204-677-2744.