Manitoba reveals how many children have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

WINNIPEG –

Manitoba health officials provided an update Wednesday on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for kids, noting so far the province is seeing “very good uptake.”

Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said so far, 14,101 children between the ages of five and 11 have received their first dose of the vaccine.

“In total, there are 28,000 vaccinated or committed with an appointment already booked,” said Reimer.

Reimer said she expects more parents to book appointments for their kids in the coming days and she also has advice on how to prepare their kids for their vaccine day.

She said it is important for parents to plan ahead of the vaccine.

“Providing one or two days’ notice gives kids a chance to feel and become prepared. Asking kids to share how they are feeling about it builds trust and a feeling of safety.”

Reimer said there are a lot of reasons to tell kids why it is good to get the vaccine, noting it helps prevent kids from getting COVID, it helps protect others in kids’ lives from getting it and it will help us move towards getting back to normal.

IN-SCHOOL CLINICS BEGIN THIS WEEK

Reimer added in-school vaccine clinics for this age group are starting this week and it will be underway throughout all school divisions in the province in the coming weeks.

“We are so grateful to the schools and school divisions that are participating in this important outreach which makes it easy for children to be protected against COVID-19,” she said.

For the first week of December, Reimer said there will be nine in-school clinics, with more scheduled to occur in the future.

“We’re working with the schools to make sure that this is comfortable for the kids, that this is being offered in a place that they’re familiar with, and that parents have lots of time to review the information ahead of time before signing and returning that consent form,” Reimer said.

Reimer said schools will send home information sheets and consent forms well ahead of time to allow for parents to review the information and talk with their children about vaccination.

She said the in-school COVID-19 vaccination clinics themselves would be very similar to how public health has done school-based vaccines for decades, and some schools may offer clinics after school hours as well.

A provincial spokesperson told CTV News that when booking in-school vaccine clinics, regions are considering COVID infection rates and the area’s clinic accessibility.

“Whenever possible, regions have been trying to prioritize school clinics and after school community clinics in areas with higher infection rates and in areas where there may be more barriers to accessing another venue (ie. supersite, pharmacy, doctor’s office) for the population to receive their immunization,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Reimer said the 5-11 age group has been making up an increasing proportion of overall cases because they didn’t have access to vaccination until recently.

BOOSTER SHOTS AND OMICRON

Reimer also provided more information on the booster shots in Manitoba for those 18 or older.

She said so far, 44 per cent of eligible Manitobans have received their booster dose, which is 55,501 people.

In total, 74,354 third shots have been given and this includes booster doses, third doses for those who are immunocompromised, and additional doses for people who received vaccines not approved by Health Canada.

“The third dose is important because we are seeing waning immunity over time,” Reimer said.

A third dose appointment can be booked six months after receiving a second dose. Appointments can be made online (link) or by calling 1-844-626-8222.

Reimer also addressed why boosters haven’t been made available for teenagers yet.

She said all studies have been for adults, so they are waiting for more information before recommendations are made for those under 18.

The effectiveness of the vaccine against the new Omicron variant was also brought up by Reimer. She said so far, officials don’t really know yet how well the current vaccine works.

“We are not back to square one. Thankfully, it is not a yes or no question about whether or not the vaccines we received protect against Omicron. Omicron is still the same coronavirus. Our bodies are fantastic at creating complex immune responses to vaccines that can target the virus in many different ways.”

She said health officials need to wait to understand the impact of Omicron, but added the vaccine is still the best option to protect people from all variants of concern.

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