Nova Scotia says it will start vaccinating children ages 5-11 on Dec. 2.
“We’re expecting vaccines for children ages 5-11 to land in the province this week,” said Premier Tim Houston during Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing.
“Parents and guardians should be able to start booking appointments for their children very soon,” he said.
Vaccinating children is a key aspect of the province’s strategy, said Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
“Achieving good vaccination rates in the 5-11 year old group is the next and very important step in moving out of this pandemic,” Strang said.
The announcement follows shifting demographics for the virus, as Nova Scotia announced 20 new cases of COVID-19. Of 172 active cases provincewide, 22 are in the western zone, 54 in the northern zone, four in the eastern zone, and 92 in the central zone.
Numbers seem to be stabilizing, and outbreaks in the north and west zones are under control, Houston said.
Strang said in HRM, cases are shifting from central Halifax to suburban and semi-rural areas of the city. Most cases, he noted, are in children under 12.
There have been 18 COVID exposures tied to public schools in the Halifax Regional Education Centre in the past week.
“With the rollout of vaccines for children ages 5-11, we can expect to see less activity in the new year,” Strang said. He advised parents not to take a chance with their child’s health.
“The rate of severe illness in children from COVID is similar to that of a number of infections we routinely vaccinate our children against,” Strang said.
The vaccine will also help avoid school closures and cancelling social activities, Strang said.
Pharmacies and the IWK Health Centre will be the main point of distribution for the vaccine. Children will still need two doses and will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose.
There is an eight-week period between a child’s first and second dose, Strang said. Kids aged 5-11 also should not get a different vaccine, for example a flu shot, at the same time, and need to wait 14 days before or after their COVID shot.
“Parents and caregivers, if you do have to make a choice, do make the COVID vaccine a priority,” Strang said.
This does not apply for other demographics. Adolescents ages 12 and up can receive different vaccines at the same time.
Booster shots became available on Wednesday for certain members of the public, at least six months after receiving their second shot. Twelve thousand people have already booked an appointment for their third dose.