First youth in Waterloo Region receive COVID-19 vaccines

Some of the last people eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine under Waterloo Region’s first phase rollout have now had their first shots.

A handful of youth in the area received their first COVID-19 vaccination on Saturday, as more youth can expect to roll up their sleeves in the near future.

“It feels amazing,” said Hannah Waterfall after getting her first dose on Saturday. “I found out a few days ago that I was getting my vaccine and I was so excited.”

 The 13-year-old received one of about 150 Pfizer doses that the Anishnabeg Outreach is Kitchener is giving out during each of its clinics to anyone who self-identify as First Nation, Metis, or Inuit.

“This for us is going to be the way out of the pandemic and it’s going to be a way to get people back in school,” said AN Outreach CEO Stephen Jackson. “It’s how to keep everyone safe, so we’re very thrilled that we’re able to offer this to more people now.”

Waterloo Region Public Health includes First Nations, Metis, and Inuit individuals 12 and up as part of the phase one group eligible for the shot now that Pfizers has been approved for the younger ages.

“From my perspective in our region, this is the first time Indigenous people have been put first or near first to ensure their needs are being met,” said Jackson. “From a healing perspective, and from my perspective, healing is all that really matters.”

Youth who received their first shots tell CTV News they’re excited because it feels like they’re closer to being done and able to hang out with people inside.

“I think the kids are realizing school is a great place to be,” said one youth’s mother after her shot.

The Anishnabeg Outreach plans to host another 10 vaccine clinics over the next two weeks, which will include giving second doses.

“As families get their second dose, they’ll bring their children with them to get their first doses,” said Jackson.

While some youth say they are anxious about the needle, most are just excited to get back to normal life and to get back to swimming, sports, and being social.

“I am a competitive highland dancer, so I am excited for dance competitions to start again, to do the Highland Games, and just be around people,” said Waterfall.

While the province hopes to start giving the Pfizer vaccine to youth between the ages of 12 to 17 for the week of May 21, the Region of Waterloo has already opened pre-registration for that age group.