Toronto is opening up 20,000 additional appointments at its mass immunization clinics in anticipation of the inoculation of school-aged children being able to get underway sometime next week.

Health Canada approved Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine for use in children aged five to 11 on Friday morning, making an estimated 200,000 individuals in Toronto eligible for vaccination in the process.

While the vaccine still needs to be shipped to Canada due to a change in dosing for the younger age cohort, federal officials have said that they anticipate receiving  some shipments as early as Sunday with 2.9 million doses expected by the end of next week, enough to give every newly eligible child their first shot.

The Ontario government has also indicated that the parents of newly eligible school-aged children will be able to begin booking appointments on the provincial booking platform by early next week.

“Now that COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for kids aged five to 11, our Team Toronto Kids Vaccination Plan is ready to be put into action,” Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said in a news release issued on Friday afternoon announcing the new block of appointments. “Our Team Toronto Kids Vaccination Plan is all about ensuring families can choose the option most accessible for them – in addition to our city-run clinics, vaccines will also be available at school and community-based clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies.”

The pediatric vaccine was found to be 90.7 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 in clinical trails and no serious side effects were identified.

It was approved with a 21-day interval between doses but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has suggested at doses be spaced out by at least eight weeks amid some research pointing to the fact that delaying second doses results in a more robust immune response.

Over the next few weeks Toronto Public Health plans to hold 390 school-based clinics at nearly 300 different schools, as well as dozens of other pop-up clinics throughout the city.

It is also extending the hours at its five remaining mass vaccination sites as of Nov. 25 in anticipation of an increase in demand.

“We should approach those who have questions about this in an empathetic manner and take their questions seriously but I think at the end of the day we are going to see quite a lot of kids receive this vaccine and that is clearly going to help those children and the community around them,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 earlier on Friday, noting that the approval was “a really big deal.”

Toronto Public Health has said that about two-thirds of the tens of thousands of parents it surveyed earlier this month were either certain or somewhat likely to get their child vaccinated as soon as a vaccine became available.