Thousands of parents and guardians booked a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for their children in Ottawa, as Ontario expanded eligibility for the vaccine to babies and preschoolers.

As of Thursday, children aged six months to under five years old will be eligible to receive Moderna's Spikevax mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Ottawa Public Health says 3,823 COVID-19 vaccination appointments for children were booked between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

"Appointments continue to be available, and more appointments will be released in the coming days," OPH said Thursday afternoon.

Parents and guardians can book an appointment through the COVID-19 vaccination portal, participating primary care providers and paediatricians, as well as at participating pharmacies and Indigenous-led vaccination clinics. You can also call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says she understands parents have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for their children.

"For the COVID-19 vaccine, this is newer but it is the same type of vaccine that older children; children 5 to 11, children 11 and above have had, it's just a smaller dose," Etches told Newstalk 580 CFRA's The Morning Rush on Wednesday.

Etches says studies have found "very similar kinds of patterns" to reactions from children under the age of five and children between the ages of 5 and 11.

"So the most common things would be a sore arm, feeling fatigued or irritable after the vaccine," Etches said.

The COVID-19 vaccine for children will be administered in two doses, eight weeks apart.

"Children under five have been the only major population group without the protection offered from vaccination, leaving many parents worried about their children and the effects of a potential COVID-19 infection, including for people at higher risk around them," public health said in a statement.

"Having a vaccine for this age group is a vital step in protecting many more children during this resurgence of COVID-19 in our community and ahead of the school year."

Ottawa Public Health is working with partners to expand its current COVID-19 clinics to offer additional options for children and their families.

According to the OPH website, there are two COVID-19 vaccination clinics for children aged six months to under 5 years open as of today:

  • Mary Pitt Centre – 100 Constellation Drive (Tuesday to Thursday 12:45 p.m. to 7:10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 9:45 a.m. to 4:10 p.m.
  • Orleans Client Service Centre – 255 Centrum Blvd. (Tuesday to Thursday 12:45 p.m. to 7:10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 9:45 a.m. to 4:10 p.m.)

Public health says smaller family-friendly vaccination clinics are also planned for the Walter Baker Sports Centre, the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park and the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre.

Dr. Etches says the COVID-19 vaccination clinics for young children will be a quieter setting, with nurses specifically trained to deal with young patients. The Kids Come First Clinic at CHEO is also offering vaccines.


Ottawa Public Health expects one quarter of the eligible child population to receive the COVID-19 vaccine over the next couple of weeks.

"OPH will have enough appointments available to vaccinate one quarter of the eligible population over the next couple of weeks and will add more based on demand," OPH said.

The health unit says new clinics and more appointments will be added to meet demand and as more vaccine is received from the Ontario government.

"Currently, there is no concern regarding planned vaccine supply," the health unit said. "Vaccines are redistributed by OPH to its community vaccination clinics, to primary care providers who request them and to pharmacies."