Southwestern Public Health begins administering children's vaccines

Seven-year-old Andrew Bettin gets his COVID-19 vaccine shot in St. Thomas, Ont. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. (Bryan Bicknell / CTV News)

Some families in St. Thomas and Elgin County are breathing a sigh of relief as the first children’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic was set up in the region Wednesday.

“It felt kind of good and it didn’t really hurt,” said seven-year-old Andrew Bettin. He and his big brother, 10-year-old Owen, were among the first in line at a clinic at St. Thomas-Elgin Memorial Arena.

“It felt like a slight pinch but it already feels better,” said Owen.

Last week, Health Canada announced the approval of Pfizer-BioNTech's two-dose vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11. The doses are one third the size of those given to the other age groups.

“Huge relief,” exclaimed Andrew and Owen’s mom, Hillory Bettin, who said she’s been waiting anxiously to get her boys inocculated. “I feel like the walls have been closing in. You see cases every day in schools. They say one third of the cases are now kids, and I felt like it went from seniors being the most vulnerable to now kids being the most vulnerable. So it’s a huge relief, especially with the holidays coming up.”

Southwestern Public Health said it received 8,000 pediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning.

Public health officials said they had a plan ready to go. As of Wednesday afternoon, 3,000 children had been registered for the vaccine, according to Program Manager Laura Anguish.

“Do go onto our COVID-19 appointment booking system to book your appointment so that you can secure your spot to get your vaccine. We are also requiring parent or legal guardian consent for the childhood vaccine for five to 11-year-olds, so do ensure that a parent or legal guardian is attending with the child.”

Anguish said a clinic will be held at the Aylmer Police College on Thursday, and another at the arena on Friday.

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