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Ontario parents will be able to book COVID-19 vaccinations for infants and preschoolers starting next Thursday.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the lower-dose Moderna shot for children aged six months to under five will give young family members protection against COVID-19.

“Getting vaccinated remains the best defence against COVID-19,” she said in a written statement.

“I encourage parents with questions to reach out to their health care provider, the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre or the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to make an informed choice for their family.”

The province says pediatric vaccine bookings for the young age group will open at 8 a.m. on July 28.

Shots can be booked through the province’s online portal, public health units that use their own booking systems, pharmacies, Indigenous-led clinics as well as some primary care providers and pediatricians.

Moderna’s pediatric shots are being distributed across Ontario over the next several days, the province said.

The news follows a federal announcement last week that Health Canada has approved Moderna’s two-dose pediatric vaccine for young children.

The vaccine can be administered in doses one-quarter the size approved for adults, Canada’s drug regulator said.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer, said COVID-19 vaccines are safe and will help protect children from the virus, noting that some can become very sick and require hospitalization.

“Even if a child has already had COVID-19, vaccination will help to further improve the immune response and provide more robust protection,” he said in a written statement.

“I encourage every parent and caregiver to consider getting their younger children vaccinated and protected, especially if they are immunocompromised or have other serious medical conditions.”

Immunocompromised youth aged 12 to 17 will also be able to schedule second booster doses next Thursday if six months have passed since their first booster dose, or fourth shot.

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