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Manitoba expands booster shots to children aged 12-17

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MANITOBA has joined most other provinces by allowing a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for kids and teens.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/04/2022 (294 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MANITOBA has joined most other provinces by allowing a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for kids and teens.

Manitoba Health announced Wednesday that children aged 12 to 17, who had their last shot six months ago, can get a third dose. All other provinces west of Nova Scotia made that change weeks ago.

Before the announcement, booster shots for youth were limited to those in three criteria: being part of a marginalized community disproportionately affected by COVID-19, living in a communal setting such as a shelter or jail, or having an underlying medical condition.

JOHN WOODS / FREE PRESS FILES Manitoba Health announced Wednesday that children aged 12 to 17, who had their last shot six months ago, can get a third dose. All other provinces west of Nova Scotia made that change weeks ago.

Children in those groups can now get a booster at any point, regardless of how much time has passed since their second shot.

All of Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick had offered booster shots to young people weeks ago. The Manitoba government said it made the change based on guidance issued by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization on Tuesday.

The news came as relief to Winnipeg mother Jocelyn Cordeiro.

“It’s a bit nerve-wracking as a parent,” said Cordeiro.

“The situation in schools has been really outrageous. You hear it about anecdotally; lots of kids away, lots of kids sick and lots of kids coming to school with positive tests.”

Cordeiro had learned by chance that her son, who has asthma, qualified for a booster shot weeks earlier, and said the province’s communication about COVID-19 shots for kids has been unclear.

“It’s odd that all of a sudden, out of the blue, this decision was made,” she said.

“There wasn’t any new evidence given with it, so it doesn’t really make sense.”

The news was issued around mid-afternoon Wednesday, as the provincial government was dealing with closures related to a blizzard.

In the announcement, Manitoba cited the national committee guidelines as the reason for the booster-shot expansion, but it has often forged its own path. For example, in May 2021, Manitoba decided against national advice by prioritizing Pfizer and Moderna doses over AstraZeneca, citing Winnipeg’s catastrophic third wave.

Cordeiro said the boosters will help parents who have struggled to keep their children safe while letting them participate in extra-curricular activities.

“Things are appearing to be ‘wild west’ out there and certain organizations have better procedures in place than others,” she said.

Cordeiro wonders why it took so long for boosters to be made available.

“If there are children in that age group who are ill right now, there’s something that could have at least avoided the severity of the illness.”

On Wednesday, a provincial spokesperson was asked to identify who is in charge of Manitoba’s vaccination rollout currently. The response failed to answer the question.

“The vaccine implementation task force continues to meet regularly to support and guide the vaccine rollout. Planning is underway to transition these responsibilities to a broader group, that will support Manitoba’s ongoing COVID-19 response,” the province said.

The new COVID-19 group will cover vaccines, testing, treatment “and other recovery efforts” led by Manitoba Health, Shared Health “and many other partners that have been involved in COVID-19 response efforts,” the spokesperson wrote.

Dr. Joss Reimer, who has been medical lead of the task force since it was formed, starts a new role next Monday as top doctor for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

“Clinical decisions on vaccine will continue to be led by clinical and public health experts,” the province wrote.

As of Friday, Manitoba will close its PCR testing sites.

The province said it has received its share of Novavax shots. Health-care providers who requested Novavax will be able distribute it as of next week.

The Novavax vaccine includes lab-grown spike proteins that mimic the ones found on a COVID-19 particle. The mRNA technology used by Moderna and Pfizer for their vaccines instructs the body to produce fake spike proteins.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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