Saskatchewan preparing rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaign for children
REGINA — Saskatchewan is preparing for the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign for children.
The province says it is expecting to receive about 112,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages five to 11, enough to give all eligible children in the province a first dose.
The vaccine for children is still awaiting approval from Health Canada, but Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, says first doses could be available in early or mid-November.
The vaccine is to be offered where children live, learn and play, including libraries, schools, and learning, community, and sport centres.
The pediatric vaccine is a smaller dose than the one offered to people who are 12 and older.
The Saskatchewan Party government says clinical trials show there are no safety concerns among children getting the vaccine, and side effects include fatigue, headache, muscle pain and chills.
The NDP Oppositionhasbeen calling for a vaccine plan for children for weeks given the province’s high transmission rates of COVID-19.
Data from the Saskatchewan Health Authority shows about 24 per cent of COVID-19 cases in October were in children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
“It’s so important we get the vaccination rollout for kids right,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili.
“We need to make sure there’s no information or access barrier. That will help us get our vaccination rate up overall, and hopefully, we can look back on the fourth wave and say that was the last one. It didn’t need to be the worst one — it has been — let’s hope it’s the last.”
On Tuesday, Saskatchewan reported 126 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 new deaths. There were 2,528 active cases in the province.
There were also 298 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 81 in intensive care. Twelve residents in intensive care have been transferred to hospitals in Ontario.
Health officials in Saskatchewan have said vaccinations are not enough to affect the fourth wave, and more stopgap measures are needed.
Doctors are publicizing a letter they sent to Saskatchewan’s premier and health minister calling for more COVID-19 public health measures to help the province’s health-care system return to sustainable levels.
The letter, penned by senior medical health officers, was sent last Thursday, four days before Premier Scott Moe said he will not bring in more measures because it would take away the personal freedoms of those who have been vaccinated.
The medical health officers said Saskatchewan will face even higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks and put the health system at risk of collapse if restrictions on gathering sizes are not implemented.
Current COVID-19 measures in the province include proof of vaccination or a negative test and a masking order.