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One quarter of younger B.C. kids now registered for COVID-19 vaccine

About 75,000 were already registered Friday when Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and another 15,000 signed up afterwards.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says 90,000 of 350,000 eligible B.C. children ages five to 11 are registered to have their COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lisa Leutner

A quarter of B.C. children aged five to 11 have registered for the new COVID-19 vaccine expected to roll out for youngsters starting next Monday.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said 90,000 of an approximate 350,000 eligible children are registered to have their shot, which he called “a significant number.” About 75,000 were already registered Friday when Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and another 15,000 signed up afterwards.

“We don’t have any vaccine in the province yet, so it’s pretty impressive that 90,000 people have already registered and I expect more to do so in the coming days,” said Dix. “It’s a great start.”

The federal government ordered 2.9 million doses, enough for every child in the country in the five to 11 age group.

Dix said there was some impact on the distribution of vaccines immediately after last week’s flooding, but it was temporary: “We’re making sure that vaccines get around the province.”

He said B.C. has been a vaccination leader — 91 per cent of British Columbians 12 and older have a received a first dose, more than 87 per cent are fully immunized, 317,000 people have received booster doses, and no immunized child between the ages of 12 and 17 has been hospitalized — and he expects the province to be a leader in vaccinations for those age five to 11 as well.

“These vaccines that have been rigorously and independently reviewed by Health Canada are safe and effective,” said Dix. “They’ve been used for millions of children already in the United States and we’re looking forward to getting going with the campaign.”

Details of the immunization rollout will be revealed at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Penny Ballem, who is responsible for B.C.’s vaccination program, said Dix.

The vaccines for children will be administered mainly through community clinics but also some through school clinics, he said.

The government is asking parents and guardians to register their children immediately, so they can receive an invitation to book when it’s their child’s turn. (Go to ­ or call 1-833-838-2323 toll-free.)

Health Canada announced Friday that it had approved the Pfizer-BioNTech child-size dose of mRNA vaccine for younger children.

The vaccine is recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which says children who do not have any conditions that would make vaccination risky can receive two doses.

Meanwhile, two COVID outbreaks at Nanaimo health facilities were declared over on Monday.

Seventeen people — including 14 patients and three staff — were infected in an outbreak in the transitional care unit of Nanaimo Regional Hospital, which began Nov. 1 and claimed three lives.

Five people — two staff members and three residents — were infected in the outbreak at Chartwell Malaspina Care Centre’s Hummingbird Unit, which began Oct. 31.

Social visits, admissions and transfers and resident movement at Chartwell are expected to resume on Wednesday.

The province reported 1,052 new cases of COVID-19 over a three-day period beginning Friday — 159 in the Island Health region, which now has 436 active cases. Ten new deaths were reported, including two in the Island Health region.

The province said from Nov. 12-18, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 59.8% of COVID-19 cases, while from Nov. 5-18, they accounted for 69.9% of COVID-19 hospitalizations.