COVID-19: Feds to announce approval of COVID vaccine for kids; Ontario reveals plan to offer COVID pharmacy testing to symptomatic people

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Staff Reporter

A person wears a mask to protect them from the COVID-19 virus while walking past information about vaccination proof in Kingston, Ontario on Thursday September 23, 2021.
A person wears a mask to protect them from the COVID-19 virus while walking past information about vaccination proof in Kingston, Ontario on Thursday September 23, 2021. Photo by Lars Hagberg /The Canadian Press Images

The federal government is set to announce Friday that Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11.

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A media briefing with federal officials to share news regarding authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday.

Officials will also give an update on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, while the government will announce the easing of some COVID-19 measures at the Canadian border.

On Thursday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said it woul take “a few days to a week” to received the kid-sized vaccine from the federal government, which is responsible for procurement of vaccines and distribution to the provinces. 

Meanwhile, starting Thursday, up to 600 pharmacies in Ontario were to begin training to offer COVID-19 testing to everyone eligible, including people with symptoms, with plans to eventually expand to up to 1,300 pharmacy sites.

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As this newspaper reported earlier in the week, as many as 1,000 pharmacies across Ontario could soon be offering COVID-19 testing to people with symptoms.

Justin Bates, who heads the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said the plan is safe and has “vetted by public health experts.” The guidelines for the program will include the use of HEPA filters and having optimum air flow and ventilation, though Bates noted that not all pharmacies will meet those requirements.

Bates said the option to expand testing would be made available to every pharmacy in the province. Of 4,700 pharmacies, Bates said he expected up to 1,000 to participate, depending on their size, ventilation and willingness. He said the program would not be limited to the Shoppers Drug Mart chain, as some reports have suggested.

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Currently, 211 pharmacies offer asymptomatic testing. The expanded program could quadruple the number of pharmacies involved with COVID-19 testing, Bates said.

He said some pharmacies would offer take-home tests, which can then be dropped off at the pharmacy. Others might do testing outdoors.

Read more: 11 million rapid COVID-19 tests to be offered to Ontario elementary and secondary students for holidays

with files from Jacquie Miller, Elizabeth Payne and the Canadian Press

COVID-19 in Ottawa and Ontario

Ontario reported 711 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 397 of them, or nearly 56 per cent, in people who are either unvaccinated or of unknown vaccination status.

There were five new deaths in the province.

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This is the highest one-day tally of new cases in Ontario since late September.

Ottawa Public Health reported 48 new cases in the city and one new death. There are 376 active cases in the city, 20 people with an active COVID infection in hospital and one person in an Ottawa ICU.

More than 22,762,199 vaccinations now have been administered in Ontario, with 88.8 per cent of the population age 12 and over have at least one dose and 85.7 per cent are fully vaccinated.

There are 278 COVID-19 patients in hospital across the province. Of those hospitalized, 206 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status while 72 are fully vaccinated.

The new deaths raise the the total number of deaths in the province to 9,955 since the pandemic began.

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The Ottawa death was of a patient at The Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus, and was the fourth patient to die in the ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at hospital. No other information was available.

As of Thursday, there have been four patient deaths associated with a series of ongoing outbreaks at the Civic campus where 60 patients and staff have tested positive for the virus. The patients were in the hospital for reasons other than COVID-19.

At the hospital’s General campus, there are two ongoing outbreaks involving a total of nine patients and staff.

In regions around Ottawa, the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Heath Unit’s cases reported 31 new cases, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit reported 15 new cases, Leeds, Grenville & Lanark added eight and Renfrew increased by two.

Nationally, Canada had 23,494 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday evening. More than 1.75 million Canadians have been infected since the pandemic began. The disease has claimed 29,431 lives.

More On This Topic

  1. Christopher Reyes, 9, sits silently as he is administered the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination pop-up site at P.S. 19 on November 08, 2021 in the Lower East Side in New York City.

    Ottawa kids with autism, allergies, other special needs can pre-register now for their COVID-19 shots

  2. Mason Lawrence, 9, gives a thumbs-up after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination at a pop-up site in New York City on Nov. 8. The vaccine was cleared for children ages 5-11 in the United States in early November.

    COVID-19 guide: Everything you need to know about vaccinations for kids 5 to 11

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