OTTAWA -- Ottawa Public Health is looking at setting up school-based immunization clinics to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to children 12 and older when they are eligible to receive the dose.

Health Canada approved administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 and up on Wednesday. Canada is now the first country in the world to approve the COVID-19 vaccine to school aged children.

"It's good news that Pfizer has been approved for younger age groups," said Dr. Vera Etches Ottawa's medical officer of health.

Etches said the Ontario government will decide when public health units can begin vaccinating children 12 and older.

"Locally, we've actually already been having conversations with children's healthcare providers to talk about the best way (to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to children) and also with schools," said Etches.

"School-based immunization is one of the ways public health, traditionally, immunizes people in this age category."

On Thursday, COVID-19 vaccine eligibility opens up to all residents aged 50 and older in Ottawa, along with elementary and secondary school teachers and staff.

"This is right in our wheel house of expertise where immunizing teenagers through school-based programs is the primary way that public health delivers vaccinations in a non-pandemic year," said Dr. Trevor Arnason, Ottawa's associate medial officer of health.

"We're very well prepared for it."

Dr. Arnason says it's important that all residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including children.

"When we're talking about community immunity, of course if you have an age group that is still susceptible as we know they are, it's much harder to achieve a level where it's not circulating. So this is good news from that front."


Ottawa Public Health launched a new public awareness campaign Wednesday on the COVID-19 vaccine, to provide information to residents and address any hesitancy in the community.

"There are resources now that we have, people can share with their friends and family, really address the questions as to why you should get the vaccine," said Dr. Etches about the new campaign.

"What you can do while you wait for vaccine to get ready, and then what you can do after you receive it."

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