Niagara's public health agency is hoping the first doses for children ages 5-11 will arrive in the region sometime this week, and bookings could open up as early as tomorrow Tuesday.
During a Monday morning media briefing the regional Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji said he was hopeful that a good portion of kids now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine will be vaccinated in time for the holiday season.
"Notable among outbreaks in Niagara in the last month is that it has been found in the educational sector that has a big pool of unvaccinated children, allowing for infection to spread," Hirji said, pointing out that spread mostly was noted in elementary schools in the area, and that more than 5,000 children have been noted as having been in contact with an active case of Covid-19 just by attending school.
The statistics, said Hirji, speaks to the importance of getting doses in arms among the 5-11 year-olds, who previously were not eligible to get the jab.
"Between Public Health and the pharmacies we are expecting close to 20,000 doses initially with the opportunity to order more," Hirji said.
Around 32,500 kids aged 5-11 in the region are among those who now will be able to get the vaccine, which Hirji said is a critical step in stabilizing the spread of the pandemic, which has seen a slight rise in Ontario and Niagara, but appears to begin stabilizing after a surge locally two weeks ago.
While expecting some pushback from vaccine-hesitant parents, Hirji said Public Health will now focus on making the vaccine as accessible as possible, with pop-up clinics and prioritizing the younger age group.
A virtual town hall has been prepared for Tuesday where parents can ask questions to health officials about the vaccine approval. You can register for it here.
NRPH reported 8 new cases in the region on Monday and no new deaths.