How Ottawa Public Health plans to vaccinate 77,000 children against COVID-19

OTTAWA – Ottawa Public Health officials say they will be able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to all children ages five to 11 within four weeks of receiving county approval.

The health unit outlined its strategy for vaccinating about 77,000 children in the age group expected to be eligible for the shot in the coming weeks, at a health council meeting Monday night.

“Our surgery will quickly focus on vaccinating as many five- to 11-year-olds as possible,” said Marie-Claude Turcotte, who heads the Ottawa Public Health vaccine program. “Our team is ready and able to meet the additional demand.”

Pfizer has formally asked Health Canada for approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years. Once approved and the province gives the green light, Ottawa Public Health will quickly upscale its vaccine rollout.

Mass vaccination clinics will scale up to seven across the city, open seven days a week. Parents will be able to book appointments for their children at these clinics through the provincial booking system.

Officials also plan pop-up clinics at the school after school hours; on average 25 per week. They do not start more than a week after the vaccine has been approved for children.

There will also be 10 additional neighborhood hubs.

Ottawa Public Health-led clinics will be able to administer more than 36,000 doses per week. The goal, Turcotte said, is to reach a 90 percent vaccination rate.

Clinics will be child-friendly

Part of Ottawa Public Health’s efforts will be to help inform parents about the vaccine and resolve any concerns they may have.

“We provide parents with all the information they need to make an informed decision,” Turcotte said. “We also look at clinics that respond directly to the needs of children and families.”

OPH has nurses who have many years of experience in vaccinating children with flu shots every year.

“We hope our clinics will have a more child-friendly approach so that children will enjoy coming to our clinics,” Turcotte said.

Important to get children vaccinated: Corrosive

Overall rates of COVID-19 have been declining in Ottawa over the past few weeks, but they are highest among children. Children in school account for 45 percent of cases, although most of them have not led to an outbreak.

The doctor Dr. Vera Etches said it is important for parents to get their children vaccinated.

“I look forward to seeing Ottawans take up this protection when it arrives,” she said.

Although most children will not experience severe outbreaks of COVID-19 infections, some will, she said. Vaccination reduces the risk of these serious outcomes.

It also helps children stay in school and benefit from the support of personal learning. And it will also help keep COVID-19 rates low in society.

The United States approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergencies used in children ages five to 11 last week.

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