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Sask. NDP demands proactive vaccine rollout plan for kids


The government said planning is underway, but it will not include the pre-registration system the NDP urged.

Author of the article:

Arthur White-Crummey

REGINA, SASK : October 18, 2021  -- Saskatchewan NDP MLA Carla Beck speaks with media, regarding the COVID-19 crisis, during a news conference held at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Saskatchewan on Oct. 18, 2021. Beck was responding after it was announced that six patients, critically ill with COVID-19, will be sent to Ontario for care.BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post
REGINA, SASK : October 18, 2021 — Saskatchewan NDP MLA Carla Beck speaks with media, regarding the COVID-19 crisis, during a news conference held at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Saskatchewan on Oct. 18, 2021. Beck was responding after it was announced that six patients, critically ill with COVID-19, will be sent to Ontario for care. BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

The Saskatchewan NDP is urging the provincial government to quickly unveil a plan to vaccinate children aged five to 11 against COVID-19.

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Currently, COVID-19 vaccinations are only available for people aged 12 and up. But Pfizer has just asked Health Canada for approval of its vaccine in children as young as five .

In a press appearance Monday, NDP education critic Carla Beck called on the government to get ahead of approval. In her view, the province has too often waited to the last moment and faced crises that prompted drastic measures as a result .

“We need vaccines for school-aged children as soon as we get the green light, and we must be ready to get kids that important protection as soon as it becomes available,” said Beck.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that planning is already underway to vaccinate children aged five to 11. “Rollout of the campaign depends upon when Health Canada gives its approval to administer the vaccine to this age group,” said a statement from spokesperson Jen Graham.

Beck cited British Columbia as a model. That province has opened pre-registration so parents can sign up kids who aren’t yet eligible in advance , and Beck wants to see a plan to do the same in Saskatchewan. She said it would give the province a better sense of where there are “pockets of resistance” to vaccines.

She mentioned a recent Angus Reid poll that suggests half of Canadians are ready to see their kids vaccinated right away. Yet data for Saskatchewan shows that only two-thirds of those aged 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated, despite being eligible, as of Monday.

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Beck wants any plan to go beyond logistics to tackle vaccine hesitancy directly. In her view, many parents who remain hesitant aren’t “dyed-in-the-wool anti-vaxxers” — they may simply need information.

“Start answering questions from parents ahead of time,” Beck advised. “Let’s not wait until the rollout, and we see a number of children not getting vaccinated, to have a plan for it. We’re asking for some proactive measures.”

Graham said there will be “broad public communication” once the vaccine is available for children under 12. She said Saskatchewan is not planning a pre-registration system, and noted that the B.C. system only provides an option to receive a notification, rather than to book in advance.

awhite-crummey@postmedia.com

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