The Northern Inter Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) is getting ready to offer COVID-19 vaccines to children aged five to 11.

NITHA Medical Health Officer Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka said they are hoping to have the vaccines in their communities as soon as possible.

“We have confirmation that the product is now in the province, so hopefully we’re looking at either the end of this week or latest earlier next week,” he said.

Health Canada’s recent approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids between the ages five and 11 is welcome news to Ndubuka, as over the past three months 27 per cent of new COVID cases in NITHA communities have been in children under the age of 12.

“It’s really a good opportunity for us to ensure that these children receive their two doses and also offer them protection against the virus,” he said.

When it comes to getting the vaccine to people in NITHA communities, Ndubuka explained they have been working with both the provincial and federal governments to coordinate the roll out in all 33 of the communities they serve.

“There will be appointments or walk in clinics that will be available in all those communities, there will also be family appointments,” he said.

There are also plans to utilize schools to help get kids vaccinated; Ndubuka said some communities are also planning to go door to door offering the vaccine. Mobile clinics are as well going to be done where possible. Ndubuka said they expect to see good vaccine uptake from families where older family members have already taken a vaccine.

When looking at past vaccine roll outs Ndubuka said the health authority has learned about the importance of providing education to people about vaccines. He said it is especially important for people to know what steps have been taken to ensure this new vaccine is safe.

“Parents need to understand that the pediatric vaccine has undergone rigorous clinical trials and also undergone (a) rigorous approval process,” he said.

(The first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s new vaccine for kids arrived in Canada this past weekend: Photo Courtesy of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Twitter)