Thursday EOHU target date for giving young children vaccine: Roumeliotis

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

OTTAWA – The region’s top doctor says getting needles into arms for children five to 11 years old, starting this week, will be the “final tale” of the coronavirus pandemic.

EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, who is a pediatrician, told CTV News inoculating this group of about one million young Ontarians is “adding to the foundation” of people already vaccinated.

Health Canada approved the child-sized Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Friday and the Ontario government is opening the online booking portal tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 8 a.m. for parents to book their children for the shot. A child must be at least five or turning five years old this year (born in 2016) to be eligible.

As for when the shots will start in Cornwall, SD&G and Prescott-Russell, it should happen this week. “We’re aiming for Thursday for my health unit,” Roumeliotis told CTV.

The clinics will be “school-based systems” and will be held “every weekend starting next weekend,” which will be a good fit for parents who have day jobs and kids in school during the week.

The first and second shots will be spaced eight weeks apart because it creates a better immune response, he said.

Roumeliotis is hesitant about having children rolled into the proof of vaccination system to visit public spaces like restaurants. “At this point, I would not. I don’t want to force it on parents. I would just be happy trying to urge parents to get their kids vaccinated at (the) highest levels as possible in our community.”

The doctor thinks the pandemic will transition locally to an endemic sometime in the spring. That would mean there are high levels of vaccination, the virus is dwindling down and positive cases are not ending up in the hospital impacting our health care system.