Close to 7,000 children have appointments to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Simcoe-Muskoka.
The province opened its booking system to include appointments for children between 5 and 11 years old earlier this week, as it received the child-size doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
According to Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the health unit will be able to provide the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to every eligible child in the region within three weeks.
There are approximately 44,000 children between 5 and 11 years old living in Simcoe Muskoka, and there were 6,750 children booked to receive a vaccine as of Wednesday afternoon.
"We know from some survey data that about half of the parent population wants to, and are eager to get their children vaccinated, about a quarter do not want to get their children vaccinated, and the remainder are hesitant but willing to consider it," said Gardner during a media briefing on Nov. 24. "Certainly we need to make it available to all who would take it ... and certainly the greater the coverage the better."
Gardner said it will be up to the health unit to provide information in interactive and different ways to help parents make a decision.
The recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is for children to receive their second dose eight weeks after the first.
Children born between 2010 and 2016 can receive the children's Pfizer vaccine. Parents can book an appointment online through the provincial system for community clinics throughout the region. There are also some pharmacies and primary health care providers offering the children's vaccine.
The health unit recommends children get their vaccine with a parent or legal guardian present at the clinic, but it is possible for a child to go with an alternate caregiver to get vaccinated. In this case, a parent or legal guardian must be available by phone to provide verbal consent and review health history.
The health unit is hosting a live, virtual question and answer session for parents on the COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds on Dec. 8 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The session will include Dr. Colin Lee, the health unit's associate medical officer of health, Dr. Rania Harim, a pediatrician from Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, and Jocelyn Leworthy, a certified child life specialist. The health unit will post a link to information session on its website closer to the date.
For more information on vaccinations for children from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, visit their website.