Premier Jason Kenney expected to announce Alberta’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for children

Alberta’s vaccination roll-out plan for children aged five to 11 will be announced today when Alberta Premier Jason Kenney provides an update on COVID-19.

Kenney, Health Minister Jason Copping and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, will hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. 

You can watch it live here. 

Alberta was finalizing details of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination campaign ahead of an announcement today, Hinshaw said Monday on her official Twitter account. 

Parents are able to pre-register their children for a shot. Appointments will be made available as soon as the supply of the pediatric vaccine arrives in the province, Alberta Health Services said on its website. 

AHS has set up a pre-registration page on its website and parents will be notified when doses are available.

The pending launch of pediatric vaccines is a big relief to Preet Bhandal, an Edmonton mother of three.

‘Normal life’

Her 13-year-old son is already vaccinated but her two young daughters — aged nine and 11 — are awaiting their shots.

“We can go back to normal life,” said Bhandal, who has already pre-registered her daughters and checking for updates. “We’ve been wanting to go on vacation somewhere … it just alleviates all that stress.” 

The vaccines will also make her feel better about sending her children to school, she said. 

Bhandal’s son tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020. No one else in the family got sick but his entire class had to quarantine. 

“I know what it’s like to be that parent whose child gets it and everybody else has to stay at home. Nobody wants to feel that way,” she said.

“So now, at least protection-wise, everybody who does participate and get it can have some kind of peace of mind.” 

Canada’s first doses of COVID-19 vaccines for children arrived in Hamilton, Ont., on Sunday, just days after Health Canada approved it. The federal government and the pharmaceutical giant have agreed on an accelerated delivery of more than 2.9 million doses.

The pediatric version of the vaccine uses a dosage a third of the size of those given to people 12 and older. There are also other changes to the vaccine, including one allowing it to stay at normal refrigeration temperatures for longer.

Health Canada authorized a two-dose regimen to be administered three weeks apart. 

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), however, is recommending that the spacing between doses be increased to at least eight weeks, as evidence has been growing that a longer interval generates a more robust immune response.

Meanwhile, cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 continue to decline in Alberta. As of Monday’s update, the province has 5,311 active cases. Hospitals have 463 patients with COVID-19, including 98 in ICU.

There have been a total of 3,217 deaths

About three-quarters of those in hospital are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated. About 70.7 per cent of Alberta’s total population is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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