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Saskatchewan says it will be offering COVID-19 vaccines for children under five starting Friday.

Health officials on Wednesday said the province has received 13,000 doses of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine for children ages six months to five years.

They said that due to the limited supply, the province is first opening up appointments to those who are at a high risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Parents who have an immunocompromised child can book the shot starting Thursday along with other children in the same household who are eligible.

Appointments for all others open Friday, when shots will start being administered.

Last week, Health Canada authorized the use of Spikevax for children, making it the first authorized vaccine for the age group.

Saskatchewan’s deputy chief medical health officer encouraged all parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

“There’s been a significant number of our very youngest population in the province that have been unable to access vaccines until now,” said Julie Kryzanowski.

“Fortunately, the majority of children with COVID-19 have milder or asymptomatic disease, but some children – even those previously healthy – can get severe disease and require hospitalizations.”

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said there are 77,000 children in the province between six months and five years who are eligible for the vaccine.

Sheila Anderson, operational vaccine lead for the health authority, said a next batch of vaccines for the age group will arrive in August.

She said Canada is expecting a second shipment of about 660,000 doses, but she is unsure at this time how many will be allocated to Saskatchewan.

“I think that it’s all of our responsibility to get vaccinated, and encourage our loved ones to get vaccinated and keep those conversations going,” Anderson said.

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