VICTORIA — British Columbia’s top doctor and health minister are urging parents to register their children now that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved in Canada for kids aged five to 11. 

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that they welcome both the Health Canada announcement and recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization on use of the lower-dose vaccine for those children. 

More than 75,000 children have already been registered for their vaccine and are on the list to be contacted to book an appointment for their shots. 

The statement says B.C. will have enough vaccine available for the 360,000 children of that age in the province as soon as possible. 

The statement says that while children are at a lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19, it can still result in serious outcomes for some, including hospitalizations and long-term symptoms. 

It says the pandemic has had a tremendous effect on children and families, disrupting school and other events, and the vaccine is another step in allowing kids to go back to important activities. 

B.C. reported 497 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths on Friday, pushing the death toll from the virus to 2,293.

The Health Ministry says 3,420 infections are active across the province, including 358 people in hospital, with 109 in intensive care.

It says 87 per cent of eligible B.C. residents aged 12 and up have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while nearly 91 per cent have had one.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press