Hundreds of local kids receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose

(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / casanowe)

At least 2,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments have been booked for young children between the ages of five and 11 in the region.

Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade said so far about 500 kids within the young age group have received their first shot of the paediatric Pfizer vaccine.

Registration opened to young children on November 23. Ranade said more appointment slots are still available.

“There are appointments available at our Lambton College Event Centre location as well as the Rapids Family Health Team location, and those are bookable through our website or by calling us at 226-254-8222.”

There are other community clinics where young children can get their shot, however, the options listed above are more kid-friendly.

“We’d prefer you to book there for now but over time we’re going to integrate that work with just general community clinics,” he said.

Ranade said the number of vaccine bookings for young children is going as expected based on a survey Lambton Public Health conducted in October.

“If we really look at the overall picture, we have just under 10,000 kids who are eligible in that group. We would expect, based on our survey, that 60 per cent of those parents wanted to get their kids vaccinated right away,” said Ranade. “So if we get up to the 5,000 to 6,000 mark then we’ll reach sort of what we expected.”

Although the province has opened vaccine bookings to children who are turning five by the end of this year, Ranade said his directive is to only allow those who are actually five years old to receive the vaccine.

“That’s not different from how we administer a lot of other vaccines, for example, the MMR vaccine is typically administered to children on or after their first birthday and there are some reasons around that,” said Ranade.

He also said although he understands the eagerness some parents may have to vaccinate their young ones against COVID-19, Health Canada’s approval is specific to those five to 11.

Meanwhile, the province’s GO VAXX bus stopped in Petrolia on Wednesday and administered 50 first doses to people, 40 of which went to those in the five to 11 age group. During the mobile clinic, 17 second doses were also administered and 107 people got their third dose.

Ranade said the health unit has received a lot of appointment bookings for booster shots and is “fully booked”. Lambton Public Health is currently in the process of seeing where capacity can be increased and where appointment slots can be opened.

The province announced Thursday aftternoon that third doses eligibility is expanding to include those 50 years of age and up. Individuals in that group will be able to start booking booster shot apponitemtns on December 13. Ranade said the rollout should still flow based of vaccination timelines.

“Many of the people in the 50 and 60 age group, because of when they received their second doses, would not actually be eligible to receive third doses,” he said. “They may be eligible to book but they won’t actually be able to get that dose until the middle of January.”

Ranade said if the health unit encounters a situation where a lot of people in the 70-80 age group waited until mid-January to book their appointment but are unable to find a slot, the health unit may need to take steps in order to make sure the vulnerable population receives their booster shot.