'I'm excited': Young students begin getting vaccinated in Quebec

Hundreds of children embarked on an historic field trip Monday as they were among the first of their age cohort to attend a scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Some students from the F.A.C.E. school in downtown Montreal were inoculated at the Palais des congrès, while others got the shot right in their school. It’s part of a coordinated effort between school boards and local health authorities and now the province is looking for other new ways to get first doses out to this younger age group.

Some students braved the jab with a mix of emotions.

“I could feel just the pushing, it didn't hurt much. And now I don't feel anything,” said Sihoo Byun.

“It hurts a little bit, it hurts to be honest,” said Carmen Sarafzadeh.

Still, students were encouraging others of the importance of getting the vaccine.

“I'm excited. It's easier to go outside and do things with friends and stay safe for other people, too,” said Nika Khan-Lau. 

“It’s great how the school brought us here and we are getting a chance to get vaccinated and it's really going to help us get through faster and safer,” said Sienna Therren.

Organized between school boards and regional health authorities, some schools had vaccine clinics on site while others sent students to nearby vaccination centres.

“As an educator working in the schools and to see the consequences and challenges with Covid, today is a celebration,” said F.A.C.E. vice-principal Jennifer Harriet. "We need students to be protected to resume activities."

Across the province only a third of children aged 12 to 17 have been vaccinated. Now, the province is rolling out new strategies like the vaccine-o-bus in the Quebec City region to increase vaccinations among groups that lag behind in first doses.

“This is the kind of initiative for people who might not speak English or French or unknown languages,” said Quebec’s public safety minister at the launch of the vaccine-o-bus Monday. “But also people who are maybe a little less inclined to take an appointment and to go by themselves get their vaccine.”

With 75 per cent of Quebecers age 12 and up already receiving one dose, the government hopes programs like this will boost that number closer to 100.

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