Hamilton offering COVID-19 booster doses for younger children


Published August 31, 2022 at 4:37 pm

The City of Hamilton COVID-19 vaccination program will now include booster dooses for children aged 5 to 11, who are set to begin a new school year in a matter of days.

The city says will move “in alignment with Ontario government direction” and make third doses available starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow (Sept. 1). Vaccination, per one recent study, reduces an individual’s chance of COVID-19 infection by 20 per cent, which in turn can help contain community spread. The province’s new direction also allows COVID-positive people to immediately go to school or work without isolating for five days, or 10 as was the case earlier in the pandemic.

Hamilton is expected to experience a seventh wave of COVID-19 in the fall, as the general population begins to spend more time indoors. Just over half (50.3 per cent) of children aged five to 11 have received a first dose, and 37.2% have completed their primary vaccine series by receiving a second dose.

Ontario is the second-last province to offer the boosters to younger children. New Brunswick, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, have done so for weeks. Québec, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and the Prairie provinces all had registration opened by Wednesday. Nova Scotia expects to begin giving boosters on Sept. 6.

“With Hamilton students heading back to class and taking part in more indoor activities come the Fall, we’re encouraging all Hamilton families to get vaccinated and stay up-to-date with their vaccinations with all the doses recommended for them, as an important part of their back-to-school planning,” Hamilton Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson stated on Wednesday. “Getting vaccinated, including a booster dose when recommended, remains the most important way to protect against COVID-19 and its health effects. While most children in this age group have relatively mild symptoms, some do experience severe illness, particularly those with underlying health conditions.”

On Aug. 19, Health Canada approved the use of a Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose for children aged five to 11. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) published its recommendations on the use of a first booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine for this age group.

Children aged five to 11 can receive a booster dose approximately six months after their second dose. Parents and caregivers of children in that age range can book an appointment at Hamilton Public Health Services-led clinics through the hamilton.ca/GetYourVaccine online portal. Appointments can be booked 14 days in advance, with new appointment dates being added daily. Slots will begin appearing on Thursday morning.

The public health unit is also reserving 1,700 appointments at its Mountain Vaccine Clinic at LimeRidge Mall and its mobile vaccine clinics between Sept. 1 to 3 and 6 to 10, for children aged five to 11 to receive a booster dose. That clinic has a dedicated area for families who are attending with their children for a COVID-19 vaccination.

Community members are also encouraged to book an appointment with the Winterberry Family Medicine primary care led clinic or to check with local pharmacies that are offering booster doses for this age group.

The online vaccine booking system can accept bookings for eligible residents with an Ontario health card (green photo health card OR red and white) and an email address or cell phone number. Individuals without an Ontario health card, or without an email address or cell phone number can call the Public Health Services COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline: 905-974-9848, option 7. Translation services are available by phone.

Parents and caregivers who have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine are encouraged to speak with the health care provider who knows their family best — their family doctor or nurse practitioner. Parents and caregivers can also call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to book a phone appointment with a SickKids Registered Nurse: sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult, and access information and frequently asked questions at hamilton.ca/ChildVaccine.

“Providing information and resources tailored to a family’s needs will ensure community members can make an informed decision based on their and their loved ones’ personal circumstances,” the public health unit said on Wednesday.

Anyone five years old or over wishing to receive a first or second dose can access a COVID-19 vaccine on a walk-in basis. Those 12+ who are eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are also able to walk-in at any Hamilton Public Health Services-led clinic.

Individuals 18 and over who are eligible for a second booster dose (fourth dose) are required to book an appointment.

As of Monday, 83.7 per cent of Hamiltonians have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 80.5% have completed their primary series by receiving a second dose. Fifty-six per cent of Hamiltonians 12+ have received a third dose and 17% of those 18+ have received a fourth dose.

The first-dose uptake total would be lower since children between six months and five years old only became eligible for a dose in July.

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