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Stephanie Dexter, President of UPS Canada, speaks with Filomena Tassi, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, as the first shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 arrives for distribution in Hamilton, Nov. 21.NICK IWANYSHYN/Reuters

Parents across the country are learning how soon their children can get an appointment for a COVID-19 shot now that the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved by Health Canada.

Ontario parents can start making appointments for eligible kids ages five to 11 starting Tuesday. Doses are expected to be handed out as early as Thursday, the province said.

“Offering the protection of the vaccine to children aged five to 11 is a significant milestone in Ontario’s fight against COVID-19 in advance of the holiday season,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday.

The province said about one million children will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

It expects to receive 1,076,000 doses from the federal government. Just over 400,000 were to arrive Monday.

One-third of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario are in school-aged children.

Also Monday, Manitoba parents were able to start booking doses for their children as early as this week. There are about 125,000 children who are eligible.

That province, in plans announced last week, said it will use previous vaccine infrastructure – community clinics, hospitals and pharmacies – as well as school clinics to get the vaccine out.

The Pfizer product was previously authorized for anyone 16 years and older and, in May, it was approved for those 12 and up.

The fourth wave of the pandemic is having a greater effect on children, because they’ve been unable to get vaccinated, said a news release from the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health.

Kids have also felt the significant impact of school closures and activity cancellations forced by the pandemic, it said.

“With pediatric vaccination, we now have an option for added protection for school-aged children from COVID-19,” the statement said.

“Along with continuing to practice individual public-health measures, this option can help them to safely participate in the activities that matter most.”

Ontario COVID-19 numbers

Ontario is reporting 627 new cases of COVID-19 today, and one more death.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 286 of those cases are in fully vaccinated people, and the rest are either not fully vaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown.

The number of daily new cases is up from 552 last Monday and 480 the Monday before that.

There are 133 people reported to be in ICU due to COVID-19, though not all hospitals disclose that information over the weekends.

Almost 89 per cent of eligible Ontarians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 86 per cent have both.

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