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Rosa Lymberiou, 7, gets vaccinated while in the arm of her mother Melika during the first day of vaccination for children aged five- to 11-years old in Montreal on Nov. 24.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Children in Quebec began rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 shots on Wednesday as provinces launched the next stage of the country’s immunization effort.

Quebec’s campaign to inoculate children with first doses by Christmas began Wednesday morning at mass vaccination centres, and it will be expanded to schools next week.

Premier Francois Legault wrote on Twitter that some 115,300 appointments had already been booked for the five-to-11 age group, which is the most recent to be made eligible for the vaccine. There are 650,000 children in the age group in the province.

Legault on Tuesday sought to reassure parents who might be nervous about getting their children vaccinated, reminding them that the pediatric version of the shot was extensively tested before approval. He said vaccinating young children would not only protect them from COVID-19 but also reduce classroom outbreaks and protect vulnerable family members.

“Holding grandma and grandpa in your arms, not having to worry about giving COVID-19 to mom and dad – that has a certain value to children,” he said.

Legault said he hoped all eligible children who want a vaccine will get a first dose by Christmas, with a second dose to follow at least eight weeks after the first.

Ontario administered its first pediatric vaccines to a handful of children at Toronto’s SickKids hospital on Tuesday afternoon, and the government plans to begin vaccinating kids in earnest on Thursday in clinics across the province.

Bookings for pediatric vaccines opened in Ontario on Tuesday, and the province said more than 93,000 appointments had been made through the provincial booking system by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Saskatchewan was expected to start vaccinating children on Wednesday, while Alberta and British Columbia have announced plans to begin in the coming days. New Brunswick and P.E.I. plan to start Friday, and Newfoundland and Labrador says vaccinations at community clinics will begin as early as Saturday.

Health Canada approved for children a modified version of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week, and the agency says the vaccine is almost 91 per cent effective.

Canada is expecting an accelerated delivery of 2.9 million child-sized doses, which is enough for every child aged five to 11.

Children in Quebec began rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 shots on Wednesday as provinces launched the next stage of the country's immunization effort.

The Canadian Press

Quebec COVID-19 numbers

Quebec is reporting 882 new cases of COVID-19 today and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose by eight from the prior day, to 211, after 27 patients entered hospital and 19 were discharged.

The number of people in intensive care remained unchanged at 46.

Health workers gave another 6,556 vaccine doses in the previous 24 hours.

The province’s public health institute says about 91.1 per cent of residents 12 and over have received at least one vaccine dose and that 88.8 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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