COVID-19: B.C. to offer Moderna vaccine to infants and children under five as of August 2

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      B.C. will make the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine available to children under five years of age as of August 2,

      In a July 14 bulletin, the B.C. Ministry of Health announced that the move comes after Health Canada's approval of the Moderna vaccine for use in infants and children from six months of age up to four years.

      It also follows a recommendation from Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

      The Ministry of Health encouraged parents to register their children now to receive the shot, which will be available at health-authority clinics throughout the province.

      "B.C. has the capacity and experience to deliver this COVID-19 vaccination campaign for this new age group," Minister of Health Adrian Dix said in the release. "Since the start of the vaccination campaign in B.C., almost 12 million doses have been administered to eligible people. I encourage parents to register their kids under the age of five, so they are invited to book an appointment, starting on Aug. 2."

      About 208,000 infants and children are eligible for the vaccine in B.C., according to the ministry.

      The Moderna vaccine for infants and children entails two doses given eight weeks apart and consists of a smaller dose of the children's vaccine currently given for those age five and older.

      Parents or guardians should register their children in the provincial Get Vaccinated program. They will then be contacted to book an appointment with their nearest clinic before or shortly after August 2.

      If an infant is presently under six months of age, the release noted, they should still be registered; an invitation to book an appointment will be sent after the child reaches six months.

      "We know that these vaccines are safe and have helped the province weather the COVID-19 pandemic so far," Dr. Martin Lavoie, acting provincial health officer, said in the release. "Although most children who are infected with this virus have no symptoms or mild symptoms, unfortunately we know that some can get very sick and these vaccines are key to keeping our communities healthy and safe."

      Lavoie is deputy provincial health officer and is currently standing in for Dr. Bonnie Henry.