Children aged five and older will need to have their parents provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test if they want to enter City facilities after Feb. 28.
The rule will apply 90 days after their fifth birthday, giving three months for children to get both doses of the vaccine.
“It’s giving residents time until February, which is three months away to make their decisions, work with their children and recognize the window that we missed with the 12 year olds originally,” said Coun. Dawn Kilmer, who made the motion to change the wording of the policy.
“It does allow residents and our employees to wrap their head around it and be more clear what our policy expects at the doors of our facilities.”
Most of the councillors were in favour of the change.
“It’s bringing us in line with the new vaccination regulations,” said Mayor Greg Dionne of the updated rules.
The province has been vaccinating five to 11 year olds for since Nov. 24 after the Pfizer mRNA vaccine was approved for that age group by Health Canada.
“This motion does appear to be in line with what Dr. Chokani had stated to us at City Council when he attended a public city council meeting,” Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp said. “The idea being that he was asking us as a city to take further and more restrictions than what the province had been requiring and the reason was public safety.”
Some councillors said that they were uncomfortable making the rule for children who are too young to be able to get vaccines without parental approval.
Both Coun. Blake Edwards and Coun. Tony Head voted against the motion, which passed with the other seven members of council in favour.
“I want to support this, but I don’t want to support this,” said Edwards. “Most of the public are on board with 12 plus. I don’t know whether the majority of the public are on board with five to 12 because it’s so new.”
He said in a few weeks he would probably support the change and was fully supportive of the notion that older youth should be vaccinated.
“At 12 plus, kids have a voice,” Edwards said. “Now we have kids five to 12 that have parents that aren’t buying into this and aren’t going to change. Those little kids don’t have a say.”
Head reiterated Edward’s position on making changes that impact children who have no say.
“Five year olds don’t have a voice,” he said.
Both police stations, the City Hall foyer and airport are exempted from the requirement.
A negative COVID test can be substituted for the vaccine requirement but it needs to be less than 72 hours old and cannot be one issued by the Sask. Health Authority.
Rapid tests are available in Prince Albert at Colette Portamedic Services and Prairie Industrial Health Services and PCR testing is available at ITS Occupational Health Services.
Shoppers Drug Mart carries self collection kits.