B.C. hopes to offer COVID vaccines to kids 5 to 11 by November

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. kids aged five to 11 could be offered COVID-19 vaccines in a matter of weeks, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The vaccine is currently under review by Health Canada, but parents in B.C. can pre-register their children to get the shot. They will be notified of eligibility to book an appointment once the vaccines are approved for use.

“We continue to talk with school communities, families and parents, to ensure their process will be as seamless as possible for everyone, and make sure that our logistics are all in place so that we can provide this vaccine, as soon as it’s available,” Henry said.

She says the program will help protect younger children, especially as the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to pose challenges.

“My health care colleagues across this province are also stretched and we are tired,” Henry added Tuesday, her voice wavering as she spoke about the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on everyone. “It is so, so hard for us to see a preventable illness now affecting people across the province. That is because we need to get vaccination rates up.”

B.C. expands indoor mask mandate to include kids aged five and up

Meanwhile, B.C.’s indoor public mask mandate expanded Tuesday to include kids aged five to 11.

Everyone in this age group, in addition to those older, is required to wear a face-covering regardless of vaccination status in places like malls, libraries and public transport.

“For youth whether taking the school bus or the city bus, the rules are the same,” Henry said.

Related video: Vaccination registration for kids age 5 and up now open in B.C.

The previous mask policy, which came into effect in late August, only applied to people over 12 years old and up.

British Columbians who fall under this order need to wear a medical or non-medical mask that covers the nose and mouth. Face shields are not a substitute.

There are exemptions for people who can’t wear a mask or who cannot put on or remove a mask without the assistance of others are exempt. The province notes a person may not be able to wear a mask for a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or because of a physical, cognitive, or mental impairment.

Masks can be removed temporarily to eat or drink, to prove your identity, if it’s necessary for personal or health services, or while taking part in a sport or fitness activity in a sports facility.

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Earlier this month, the province made masks mandatory for all students (K-12), regardless of what grade they are in. All staff and visitors are also required to wear masks.

“I just want to say how impressed I am,” Henry said Tuesday. “I continue to be amazed at the adaptability and the resilience of children across this province and many of them have told me that they know how to wear them passed down. And that is something that they do to keep themselves safe, to keep their family safe. And I just want to say thank you.”

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the extended B.C. indoor mask policy, which includes children aged five to 11, came into effect on Oct. 12, 2021.


– With files from Aly Laube and Denise Wong

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