Manitoba Health is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to allow younger children to be vaccinated.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced on Wednesday that eligibility will now include children aged six months to four years. This follows federal approval of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age group, as well as clinical guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
There are approximately 76,700 children in Manitoba in this age group. Vaccine supplies will initially be limited, with 14,900 doses in the first delivery. As a result, Manitoba is prioritizing the vaccine for children who:
- have certain medical conditions including:
- chronic lung disease,
- airway abnormalities,
- congenital or chronic heart or circulatory diseases,
- moderately to severely immunocompromised due to a medical condition or treatment,
- neurologic disorders (including developmental delay),
- diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or any chronic disease related to premature birth; or
- are First Nations, Inuit or Métis, regardless of where they live.
Children who meet these criteria must be at least six months old at the time of their appointment. The vaccine is a two-dose series and the recommended interval between doses is eight weeks. NACI recommends children receive their COVID-19 vaccine two weeks before or after any other vaccines to better monitor for any side effects. Manitoba's approach is consistent with NACI, but children who have received a different vaccine within 14 days will not be turned away.
Parents and caregivers of eligible children can begin booking appointments on Monday, July 25 at 8 am, using the online vaccine finder or through the vaccine call centre at (toll-free) 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC). Parents and caregivers who need to book two or more appointments for their children can use either option, but the phone line is recommended as the best way to access multiple appointments at the same time and as close together as possible.
Appointments will be available at regional vaccine sites, public health offices and medical clinics. Manitoba is working with First Nations leadership to co-ordinate distribution to their communities.
Eligibility will expand to include more children in this age group once more vaccines are delivered to the province. A second vaccine shipment is expected in late July or early August.
To date, more than 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people living in Manitoba. Approximately 43 per cent of children ages five to 11 are fully immunized. Nearly 80 per cent of young people aged 12 to 17 have at least two doses of vaccine.