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Manitoba Government News Release–Manitoba is ready to launch the next phase of Manitoba’s vaccine campaign to protect children ages five to 11 from COVID-19, Premier Heather Stefanson and Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon announced today.

“Our number one priority is to protect the health and well-being of our children and our most vulnerable Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “As we prepare for this next milestone in our fight against COVID-19, we are dedicated to supporting parents and guardians who will be making the important decision with their children to get fully vaccinated.”

“We are confident approval of the pediatric vaccine will come soon,” said Gordon. “We encourage all Manitobans to start having family conversations now about how vaccination works and how it will help keep our families, friends and classmates safe and healthy.”

Pending Health Canada’s approval of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine and the National Advisory Council’s anticipated recommendation, Manitoba will be ready to roll out the next phase of the provincewide #ProtectMB vaccine campaign.
The first doses of the pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to be available in Manitoba as early as one week after the vaccine is approved. The vaccine would be offered through provincial and regional vaccine clinics, physicians’ offices, pharmacies, urban Indigenous clinics and pop-up community clinics. Walk-ins will be an option at some locations and in-school vaccinations will be offered in the coming weeks, both during and after school hours.

Parents and caregivers will be able to make appointments once the vaccine is approved and arrives in Manitoba. The province will provide further information once appointments can be booked.
In an effort to increase accessibility of the vaccine, the premier and minister noted a policy change has been made to allow pharmacists to immunize all children in this age group against COVID-19 and influenza, when the vaccine is approved. Previously, pharmacists could only vaccinate children ages seven or older.

“Although children and youth are less likely than adults to get critically ill from COVID-19, they can still get sick and spread the virus to others at school and in the community,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force. “COVID cases are rising in Manitoba and the majority of new cases are now among children who haven’t had the opportunity to be immunized. This vaccine is being rigorously tested and reviewed. That process has been careful, with no steps being missed, and we’ll be ready.”

The province is expected to receive enough supply of the vaccine from Pfizer to allow all children ages five to 11 to get their first dose. The dosage for this age group would be one-third of the Pfizer vaccine already available.
Earlier this fall, the province conducted a survey of parents to better understand their perspectives on COVID-19 immunizations for children. It found that parents who are vaccinated will most likely ensure their children get immunized.
To support parents, guardians and families in this important decision, a new #ProtectMB Kids information campaign will soon launch and will provide information and resources on vaccine safety and availability.

”Achieving high vaccination rates in both adults and children is key to controlling the spread of the virus and protecting the mental and physical health of children by minimizing academic disruption and ensuring they can participate in their normal social activities,” said Gordon. “The sooner all eligible Manitobans are fully immunized, the sooner we can all feel safer, better protected and more able to freely enjoy our regular lifestyles at work, school and in our communities.”

As of Nov. 16, the province reported the following statistics for the five to 11 age group:
• to date, there have been 6,091 COVID-19 cases in Manitoba;
• in the 2021-22 school year, 13 school outbreaks have resulted in a move to remote learning;
• 27 children have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and seven of these children were admitted to the intensive care unit; and
• one child has died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Approximately 125,000 children ages five to 11 live in Manitoba. The online vaccine dashboard showing immunization rates will be updated to include these children following vaccine approval and availability in the province.

For more information, visit https://protectmb.ca. An interactive map of immunization sites is available at https://protectmb.ca/current-immunization-sites/ and will be updated as the pediatric vaccine becomes available.