WATERLOO REGION – Santa Claus and therapy dogs are among the special guests who are appearing at COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the Waterloo region to add fun to children who can now get vaccinated.
“We really want to foster a happy, healthy and friendly environment for children to make them feel comfortable,” Lisa Anstey, Director of the Pinebush Clinic. “Sometimes getting the vaccine is not easy, so we try to give children and their families as many options as possible. “
The Cambridge Clinic will be hosting a special ‘Every Dose Counts’ event for children on the weekend of December 11 with the aim of increasing its capacity to immunize approximately 3,000 children per day.
Additional fun will include music, inflatables to pose with for photos, costumed characters, and a bag of popcorn on the way out. Santa Claus will arrive from the North Pole on Sunday morning.
Pinebush will always have safe sensory spaces for children that would do better with a quieter experience.
For the past week, children aged 5 to 11 have been able to be vaccinated locally. By the end of the day on Thursday, more than 8,600 children in this age group had received their first dose.
Appointments made added to doses already administered amount to 15,723, or about 30% of children in the region between the ages of five and 11.
“And really, we accomplished this in just a week,” said Vickie Murray, operations manager for the region’s vaccine distribution task force.
“The COVID-19 vaccination for the 5 to 11 age group has got off to a very good start in our community and we want to keep the momentum going. “
The first school-based clinic took place on Thursday.
“It has been a great success helping children and their parents get immunized in a comfortable and local place. Many more school-based clinics are scheduled for the next month, ”said Murray.
This weekend will be the first clinic organized by KidsAbility, providing children aged five to 17 with special needs a safe sensory experience with additional supports.
Starting Saturday at The Boardwalk in Waterloo, the St. John Ambulance will be bringing therapy dogs to the clinic. Furry visitors will be there to comfort children who might be nervous about getting their jab.
A total of 955,308 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to residents of the region: 83.11% of residents 12 years of age and over have received at least one dose and 79.34% are fully immunized. Over 24,000 third doses have been administered.
In addition to regional clinics, the vaccine is available in many pharmacies as well as in doctors’ offices for their patients.
“With the recent increases in COVID cases and the emergence of the new Omicron variant, the importance of the vaccine as an important strategy to combat the COVID-19 virus continues to grow,” Murray said.
“We will continue to work across our region with our partners to provide immunization opportunities. “