As of Tuesday, November 23, COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available for children aged five to 11 who are residents of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) territory. The Pfizer pediatric vaccine was given full approval by Health Canada on November 19. Youth aged 12 and higher have already been eligible to be vaccinated as adults. 

According to EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, approximately 3,000 appointments are initially available and more will be added in December. Appointments should be made because very few walk-ins will be accepted. COVID-19 vaccinations for children will also be available at physician’s offices and participating pharmacies. Walk-in clinics will be held for children who are residents of the EOHU territory at selected schools over three weekends, beginning December 4 and 5. 

Roumeliotis understands parents have many questions about COVID-19 vaccination for children. Using his background as a pediatrician, Roumeliotis has provided series of answers to questions parents may have, and a video, on the EOHU website at covid-19-vaccine-for-children-aged-5-to-11 . He estimated approximately 15,000 children ages five to 11 across the EOHU’s jurisdiction are eligible to be vaccinated. 

COVID-19 vaccination for children is seen by Roumeliotis as another step towards the further removal of all pandemic-related restrictions across the region. As of Monday, November 22, there were 84 active cases of COVID-19 across the EOHU’s territory. Only eight of those cases were in Prescott and Russell counties, and there were no active cases in Champlain, Hawkesbury, East Hawkesbury, and North Glengarry. Only one person was in hospital due to COVID-19 across the entire EOHU territory. 

Roumeliotis said the majority of active cases across the EOHU’s jurisdiction are among people aged 18 to 29, where vaccination rates have been lower. As of November 22, 92 per cent of all EOHU residents aged 12 and higher had received one dose, and 89 per cent of the same age group had received two doses. Individuals aged 70 and older are presently eligible for a third booster. The eligibility age for that third booster will be reduced in the months ahead. 

According to Roumeliotis, vaccination rates have been less in parts of Hawkesbury and Cornwall. He attributed that to barriers to accessibility, other socio-demographic factors, and misinformation. When asked if he is concerned about misinformation and conspiracy theories influencing parents in their decision to have their children vaccinated, Roumeliotis said signs of that are already showing. He is attempting to communicate with parents and ensure they get proper information from proper sources. 

To book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment in Ontario, go to getting-covid-19-vaccine or call 1-833-943-3900. Parents who require alternative arrangements for their children to be vaccinated may contact the EOHU at 1-800-267-7120.