On July 20, Manitoba Health announced that vaccine eligibility would expand to include children aged six months to four years old. The decision was made after the federal government and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) approved a Moderna vaccine for younger Canadians.
Currently, only 14,900 doses are available for the 76,700 children in Manitoba that fit within the age group, so supplies will be limited.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis children are prioritized to get the vaccine. Children who suffer from chronic illness or have underlying medical conditions will be among the first to receive their dosage as well.
Kevin Coombs, a professor in medical microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba believes that this new round of vaccinations will help fight the spread of COVID-19 among multiple age groups.
“The more people who are vaccinated, irrespective of age, the better for the rest of the population, through the process of ‘herd immunity’,” said Coombs in an email interview.
“If there are fewer susceptible hosts, then the virus cannot spread as efficiently.”
More than two years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine mistrust continues to circulate among different groups around the country. Coombs respects that some people may be apprehensive to getting the vaccine, but insists that the positives outweigh the negatives. He states that parents should assess the risks of a COVID-19 vaccine like they would any other.
“Some people may object to children getting the vaccine at what might be perceived as early, but there are several vaccines given to children even younger,” said Coombs.
“Vaccines still are much safer than getting infected.”
Calleigh Gingras, a student in the U of M’s faculty of education, thinks that more vaccines available for children is a positive. After student teaching in an elementary school for more than a year, she hopes that children are given every opportunity to learn in a safe classroom environment.
“It just helps people come back to school quicker,” said Gingras.
“I think the pandemic did a lot of damage to the grade schooling system […] and it’s really frustrating. I’m genuinely scared for a lot of kids because of how much they have missed out on with remote learning.”
“The kids are not academically where they should be.”
Vaccine appointments for eligible children can be booked by a parent or caregiver using the online vaccine finder or by phone at 1-844-626-8222.
Eligibility for the six months to four year age range is expected to expand once a new shipment of vaccines arrives in late July or early August.