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Britain allows early booking of booster shots to speed up rollout

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Britain’s health ministry on Saturday said it would open up bookings for booster shots a month before people were eligible to receive the shots to help speed up the rollout ahead of the challenging winter months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is relying on booster doses as a major plank of his plan to avoid lockdown this winter through COVID-19 vaccines rather than social distancing rules or mask mandates, but has been criticised for a slow start to the programme.

Around 3 in 5 eligible over-50s have had booster shots in England, with more than 9 million people getting booster doses in Britain overall so far.

Over-50s and vulnerable people will still become eligible for their booster shots 6 months after their second dose. But from Monday, they can book the appointment after five months.

Currently, people can only book the appointment six months after their second dose.

“This will accelerate the booster programme, ensure the NHS is able to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, and importantly help more people maintain protection against COVID-19 as we know immunity will dip over time,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who sets policy in England, said.

The health ministry said that the winter would be challenging for the National Health Service (NHS), owing to increased spread of other seasonal viruses such as flu.

Britain is currently reporting an average of 40,000 new cases each day. Even though vaccines have greatly reduced deaths from COVID, doctors are warning that pressures are building inside hospitals.

Johnson has so far resisted calls for a “Plan B” involving mask mandates, vaccine passes and work-from-home directives, and Javid has said that while the NHS faces “huge” pressure, it is not currently unsustainable pressure.

“COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your family ahead of a challenging winter and this change to the booking system will make it as easy as possible for people to book their booster jabs,” Javid said.

 

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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COVID-19 immunization clinics open to B.C. kids ages five to 11 today – Toronto Star

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VICTORIA – Children in British Columbia between five and 11 years old can start getting shots of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine today.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said last week that about 350,000 children are eligible to receive the modified dose of the Health Canada-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Health Canada approved the pediatric shot for use in Canada after an independent scientific review confirmed the first vaccine formulated for younger children is safe and effective.

Henry says the same vaccine has been administered to more than three million children in the United States and there have been no “safety signals” as a result.

She says the vaccine will help children and families safely return to activities that benefit physical and mental health.

Dr. Penny Ballem, the executive lead for B.C.’s vaccination drive, has said she expects the full children’s immunization effort including second doses to conclude by the end of January.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2021.

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COVID-19 immunization clinics open to B.C. kids ages five to 11 today – Times Colonist

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VICTORIA — Children in British Columbia between five and 11 years old can start getting shots of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine today. 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said last week that about 350,000 children are eligible to receive the modified dose of the Health Canada-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Health Canada approved the pediatric shot for use in Canada after an independent scientific review confirmed the first vaccine formulated for younger children is safe and effective. 

Henry says the same vaccine has been administered to more than three million children in the United States and there have been no “safety signals” as a result.

She says the vaccine will help children and families safely return to activities that benefit physical and mental health.

Dr. Penny Ballem, the executive lead for B.C.’s vaccination drive, has said she expects the full children’s immunization effort including second doses to conclude by the end of January.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2021.

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COVID-19: Children between five and 11 are eligible for vaccinations starting Monday – Vancouver Sun

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Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 on Nov. 19. This vaccine uses a lower dose of 10 micrograms — one-third of the dose given to older children and adults

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Children in B.C. between five and 11 years old start receiving the first doses of their COVID-19 vaccines on Monday.

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More than 90,000 out of the 350,000 eligible children, or 26 per cent, in that age category were registered a week before the rollout, according to the B.C. government.

The government’s own surveys show that most parents support getting vaccines for their young children, but there are some whose views might keep the vaccination rate lower for this age category.

Of B.C. parents who responded, 58 per cent will register to vaccinate their children right away, while another 18 per cent planned to wait, and nearly 25 per cent said they are not sure they will do it, according to Penny Ballem, the executive lead for B.C.’s immunization efforts.

A parent or legal guardian has to give verbal consent ahead of a child being vaccinated, according to Ballem.

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Health Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 on Nov. 19. This vaccine uses a lower dose of 10 micrograms that is one-third of the dose given to older children and adults.

COVID-19 information from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control from Nov. 25 shows that 80 per cent of British Columbians at the next age group up, aged 12 to 17, are now fully vaccinated and more than 87 per cent have a first dose.

There are varying rates in different health authorities, however. In Fraser, Vancouver Coastal and Vancouver Island, it is higher at 82 per cent, 89 per cent and 83 per cent, respectively. In Interior, it was 70 per cent and in Northern, it was 59 per cent.

Within authorities, there is also a wide spectrum. As of Nov. 23, Enderby and Kettle Creek in the Interior authority had only 38 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds double vaccinated, while Kimberley posted 80 per cent. In Vancouver Coastal, Bella Coola Valley had 59 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds double vaccinated, while North Vancouver was at 93 per cent.

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Between Oct. 27 to Nov. 25, the number of average daily cases per 100,000 people among the double vaccinated for this 12 to 17 age group across B.C. was 2.5. Among those who had one vaccination, the number of average daily cases per 100,000 people was 8.2. And for the unvaccinated, the figure was 46.8 per 100,000.

For that same period, in the category of 0-11 year olds, who are all unvaccinated, the number of average daily cases per 100,000 people was 16.8.

“I think the most important thing is that vaccinations be readily available for all children and families,” said Teri Mooring, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

“For families where it’s not convenient for them to book an appointment in a separate clinic or perhaps they work long hours or there are other various individual circumstances, we think there should be an option (for COVID-19 vaccination) in schools as well.”

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Mooring said that “it was a concern with the 12- to 17-year-olds as well and what we’re seeing in some parts of the province, where we have vaccine hesitancy, we are still those (vaccination) numbers lag behind. We don’t want that to be the case for the five to 11-year-olds.”

Youth aged 12 to 18 have to carry a B.C. Vaccine card, or have a trusted adult carry one for them, to go to restaurants and attend indoor, organized events. Unlike adults, they don’t have to also show government-issued identification. Children aged five to 11 are not be required to show proof of vaccination.

jlee-young@postmedia.com

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