From 8 a.m. CST Tuesday November 23rd, Saskatchewan parents may book online for their kids 5-11 years old to get their COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

This as Health Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for that age group last Friday.

Dr. Tania Diener, Medical Health Officer responsible for immunization, and physician co-lead of SHA’s COVID-19 immunization campaign explained the importance of getting children immunized.

“At the moment children 5-11, or in fact below the age of 12, have the highest incidence of new COVID disease in Canada and therefore its really important for us to get them immunized as quickly as possible. So the goals of this campaign is to minimize serious disease and death from COVID. It’s to protect those that are particularly vulnerable.”

Diener added that another goal is to protect the health care services, minimize the spread and immunize as many people as quickly as possible.

As of November 5th, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam noted that children under 12 accounted for 20 per cent of daily cases across the country while making up 12 per cent of the population.

Diener noted that after their vaccine trials Health Canada has determined that the formulation is a safe and effective vaccine at 90.7 per cent efficacy. She explained the children formula.

“It is different than the adult one, because of the addition of a different buffer which is being used currently in many other vaccines. It’s more fridge stable so it will help us in our delivery process. In terms of the dosage it will be a smaller volume that will be administered to the 5-11 group; .2 ml instead of the .3 that we currently provide to those 12 and older.”

The SHA aims to have over 112,000 doses available in the province by the end of the week, to cater for the roughly 115,000 children aged five to 11 to be immunized.

Officials say the COVID-19 vaccines for children will be supplied to 221 clinics in 141 communities and over 100 schools.

Diener added that side effects are expected like soreness at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle pain and chills, but these should clear up in one-two days.

The health officials noted that the  timing between first and second doses is recommended for 21 days, but they are seeing evidence in adults which suggests a more robust and durable immune response over an eight-week separation of the two doses.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab addressed that issue and encouraged parents to get their kids immunized ahead of the holidays.

“This is the time for children 5-11 to get their first dose. This is a great time for families to come and get their first and second doses as parents, older siblings; grandparents to get a booster. Now having said that, for children 5-11, obviously the second doses will be sometime in January, February ideally at eight weeks. So there is still some time for children to get fully vaccinated, but we will see the benefits starting right away.”

Information on in-school clinics will be sent directly to parents and students.

In Alberta, parents are already registering online for their kids to get the vaccine and that province is expecting to begin immunization of children later this week as they receive vaccine supplies.