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B.C. prepares to vaccinate children following Health Canada approval of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine

Further details are expected next week on B.C.'s plan to vaccinate five- to 11-year-olds — a group that has seen high COVID-19 case rates in recent months
vaccine

A COVID-19 vaccine for children has been approved by Health Canada, and more information on B.C.'s plans to vaccinate those age 5 to age 11 is coming next week.

The approval means that approximately 360,000 children between ages five and 11 will soon be able to get vaccinated.

In a statement released Friday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said following a rigorous review, the vaccine has proven to be safe and effective.

Recent case data shows the two age groups which have seen the highest rates of infection in the province are five- to eight-year-olds and nine- to 11-year-olds — though both have fallen sharply since early October, when they spiked at a rate of around 40 cases per 100,000. Other age groups averaged around 23 per 100,000 or lower during that peak.

The age zero to four age group, meanwhile, has tracked with most other age groups throughout the pandemic.

"While children are at a lower risk of severe disease from COVID-19, it can still result in serious outcomes in some children, including hospitalization and long-term symptoms," reads the statement from the two top B.C. health officials.

COVID-19 cases among school-aged children have caused a number of interruptions in schools, with school exposure notifications being a regular occurrence throughout the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years.

Currently, Kamloops has exposure notifications for five schools across 12 days in November. Those deemed close contacts in exposures often have to stay home and wait to see if symptoms will arise, and recovery from infections could take weeks.

Parents are encouraged to register their children using the same system they used to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

To register, go online to getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca or call 1-833-838-2323. To date, 75,000 have been registered in the system.

No timeline has been provided, but those registered will receive an invite to book an appointment once plans for the campaign are in place.