Small group of Toronto children become first in Canada to receive pediatric COVID-19 vaccine
Published Tuesday, November 23, 2021 4:24PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 23, 2021 10:45PM EST
A small group of Toronto children have become the first kids in Canada to receive Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine was officially approved for use in children aged five to 11 on Friday but the first shipments only arrived in Ontario on Sunday and had to be redirected to all 34 public health units.
On Tuesday afternoon Toronto Public Health and the Hospital for Sick Children partnered together on a special event to inoculate 10 children ahead of the beginning of a wider rollout later this week.
Mayor John Tory was in attendance to speak with the children, as was Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.
Officials say that there will be “a limited number of youth vaccination appointments on Wednesday and a large number of vaccinations on Thursday.”
“I have to say that it was a real honour and privilege to be part of this afternoon's event, observing those first children in that five to 11 age range getting that COVID-19 vaccine in what was a very, very exciting moment for them, for their families,” de Villa said after Tuesday’s event. “You could really feel the joy and relief that I know many of us have experienced as a result of having gotten the best protection we have against COVID-19.”
All of the children who participated in Tuesday’s event received a special superhero-themed vaccine passport courtesy of Toronto Public Health as well as a sticker.
They also got the opportunity to pose for photos along a special “selfie wall” that will be set up at all of Toronto’s vaccination sites.
“We are trying to make it fun and make sure that some of theses superheroes are at ease while they do something that is good for themselves, good for their families and good for Toronto,” Tory said of the city’s youth vaccination campaign. “So we're very happy with this partnership that has made this happen for the first time in Canada and we're going to carry on the battle which we're continuing with and that is to keep pushing those numbers up and to get all 200,000 kids up to 11 done in the City of Toronto because that's our objective.”
City adds thousands of appointments
The vaccination of 10 newly eligible children on Tuesday came just hours after the province opened up its appointment booking portal to the age group for the first time.
The city says that about 93 per cent of the 30,000 appointments made available on Tuesday were booked within hours.
As a result approximately 14 per cent of all Toronto children aged five to 11 now have an appointment to receive their first dose.
In response to the demand, the city has now added 17,000 additional appointments between Dec. 7 and 11.
It says that with the additional slots, there will now be more than 47,000 available appointments at its five mass vaccination sites over the next two-and-a-half weeks.
“Toronto, you’ve truly stepped up. In response, we're opening up additional appointments for kids. Later this week, vaccines will also be available at school and community-based clinics, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies, so that families can choose the time and place that works best for them,” Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said in an earlier news release.
According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, more than 84,000 individual appointments have been booked for children aged five to 11 as of this afternoon.
The city says that there are still “limited appointments” available at its mass vaccination sites between Nov. 25 and Dec. 5.
It says that school-based mobile clinics will also begin this week and that parents and students will receive information about those clinics “directly from their school and school board.”