OTTAWA -- Ottawa children began rolling up their sleeve and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

At community clinics, there was excitement and smiles as the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines were administered to children in the 5 to 11-year-old age group.

"Feels nice to get vaccinated and I'm just glad I got it," said eight-year-old Olivia, who visited a community clinic with her mother Valerie Lemieux-Lloyd.

"It provides Olivia with freedoms to do more things, she can participate in activities, it means she'll be in school more instead of at home," said Lemieux-Lloyd.

Ottawa Public Health has set up kid-friendly posters and signage to help kids feel comfortable, along with providing stickers to kids after receiving the vaccine.

"There were lots of pictures to look at and it was exciting," said Olivia.

At the Nepean Sportsplex in Ottawa's west end, one family celebrated vaccinations with matching onesies.

"It's a special event, it's pretty cool that we're getting our vaccines," said parents Melanie Dompierre and Marc Ridgen.

"We're doing this for our own fun, if it brought a smile to a few other people than all the better."

The COVID-19 vaccine for children was also administered at hospitals, doctors' offices and pharmacies across Ottawa.

"It's a good day: we administered our first kid's doses at QCH to plenty of excitement, some (happy) tears and lots of smiles," said the Queensway Carleton Hospital on Twitter.

Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Jordan Clark shared a photo of a child receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, saying "Our Shoppers Drug Mart team are proud to be part of it and seeing lots of smiling kids (and parents) in store today."

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children one week ago, and the two doses will be administered at least eight weeks apart.

"Our main goal is to get children vaccinated with their first dose before the holidays," said Marie-Claude Turcotte, manager of immunization with Ottawa Public Health.

"There is still plenty of space, there's appointments in our clinics."

As of 3 p.m. Friday, 30,680 appointments for children ages 5 to 11 had been booked at COVID-19 vaccination clinics. A total of 60,000 appointments are available at the seven mass vaccination clinics until Dec. 23.

Ottawa Public Health's seven community vaccination clinics have superhero signs set up for photos after children receive the shot, and all children will receive stickers.

"For her, I think seeing all those – the mascot, the stickers, all of those things will make it a bit more exciting and more like going somewhere fun," said one parent on Thursday.

Turcotte says a spray will be available for children to numb the spot where the needle will be administered.

"It's a spray that within a few seconds will freeze the skin, so when we insert the needle the children won't feel the pain as much," said Turcotte. "It's a great tool for kids who are more worried about getting a needle."

Mayor Jim Watson tweeted that 1,200 kids will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at clinics on Friday, and there will be space for 2,100 kids a day moving forward.

Ottawa Public Health will also offer the COVID-19 vaccine for children at neighbourhood vaccination hubs and after-school pop-up clinics.

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says details on the pop-up clinics at schools will be announced next week.

"This coming Monday, we'll be publishing the schedule of which schools and when on our website so people will be able to see when we're coming to a school in their neighbourhood," said Etches.

Some pharmacies and family physicians are offering the COVID-19 vaccine for children.

BOOKING AN APPOINTMENT

Appointments for children five to 11 can be made through Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine portal

You can also call 1-833-943-3900 (Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

OTTAWA'S COMMUNITY CLINICS

Vaccination appointments for children are available at these community clinics.

  • University of Ottawa – Minto Sports Complex- 801 King Edward Avenue
  • JH Putman School – 2051 Bel-Air Drive
  • Eva James Memorial Centre – 65 Stonehaven Drive
  • Orléans Ruddy Family YMCA-YWCA – 265 Centrum Boulevard
  • Nepean Sportsplex Curling Rink - 1701 Woodroffe Avenue
  • Former St. Patrick’s Intermediate School - 1485 Heron Road
  • Rideauview Community Centre - 4310 Shore Line Drive

NEIGHBOURHOOD VACCINATION HUBS

Ottawa Public Health will have neighbourhood vaccination hubs that will offer COVID-19 vaccines for children aged five to 11. No appointments are needed and drop-ins are welcome.

To find a neighbourhood vaccine hub near you, check here.

AFTER-HOURS SCHOOL POP-UP VACCINATION CLINICS

Ottawa Public Health will operate 73 after-hours school pop-up vaccination clinics on a rotating schedule over a four-week period. More information about the vaccination clinics will be released on Monday.

The clinics will have the capacity to immunize up to 10,000 children per week. 

CONSENT

Ottawa Public Health says consent by a parent or guardian will be required for COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 5 to 11.

"Children will not be vaccinated if their parent or guardian are not present," said OPH.