HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is expected to receive its first shipment of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine this week, with the first shots for children aged five to 11 to be available by Dec. 2.
Details of the rollout, however, will have to wait until there is certainty on the date and time of the vaccine's arrival, chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said Wednesday.
"We will open up appointments and this will be released publicly," Strang told reporters. "Pharmacies and the IWK Health Centre (in Halifax) will be our main vaccinators."
New Brunswick has said it planned to start vaccinating children on Friday, while Newfoundland and Labrador has said its campaign for children could begin on Saturday. In P.E.I., the first of five community-based clinics for kids is scheduled to open Friday.
Strang said Nova Scotia is still waiting to finalize details because the government has requested that its bulk shipment of vaccine be broken down into smaller quantities that can be sent directly to pharmacies. Adjustments are still being made to the province's online booking system to accommodate the new age group, he added.
He told reporters that once the shots become available, there would be capacity within the health system to administer first doses before Christmas to 80 per cent of the 68,000 children who are eligible.
Strang said the majority of those children live in the Halifax area, where that age group currently accounts for most of the new cases of COVID-19 identified in the province.
"Having good vaccine coverage rates in that age group will be a major addition to our ability to limit the spread of the virus," he said.
Vaccinating children is important, he added, because it not only helps to ensure their health but also guards against the likelihood they will transmit the virus to more vulnerable people.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia health officials reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 31 more recoveries from the disease. The province has 172 active reported infections and 18 people in hospital, including six in intensive care.
Outbreaks previously identified in the province's western and northern zones appeared to be stabilizing, officials said, although there was still evidence of low-level transmission in the northern zone.
No new cases were reported at the East Cumberland Lodge long-term care home in Pugwash, N.S., which is located in the province's northern health zone. A total of 32 residents and 11 staff members at the home have tested positive, and three residents have died of the disease.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press