TORONTO -- Children between the ages of five and 11 will be eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario this week, with families able to book appointments as of Tuesday.

Appointments will open up on the provincial vaccine portal around 8 a.m., officials said. Parents can also phone the call centre, book through their local public health units, go to a pharmacy or see their primary care providers.

Children must be turning five years old by the end of the year to be eligible.

“The approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 is exciting news for families and represents a bright light at the end of the tunnel,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.

“Offering the protection of the vaccine to children aged five to 11 is a significant milestone in Ontario’s fight against COVID-19 in advance of the holiday season. We continue to encourage all Ontarians to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”

The province said they expect to offer appointments as early as Nov. 25.

Children will receive two lesser doses of a vaccine at least eight weeks apart, officials said, as recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Parents and caregivers will have to provide their consent before or at the appointment.

Parents who may have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine are encouraged to call the provincial "vaccine confidence line" through the booking centre at 1-833-943-3900 or book an appointment to speak with a SickKids clinician through their consultation service.

Elliott said the vaccination of children is necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19, particularly the Delta variant, as about a third of new infections are in school-aged kids.

"I think that speaks to the need to get children vaccinated as being as important as adults being vaccinated," she said. "We know that at least 50 per cent of all of the parents of children in this age group are ready to have their child vaccinated right away. About 30 per cent want to have more information and that's why I think it's really important that we have these information channels available through SickKids. So they could ask whatever questions they need to ask."

The announcement comes less than a day after a plane carrying the first batch of Pfizer doses approved for children landed in Canada. Federal procurement minister Filomena Tassi said that Canada would have 2.9 million doses by the end of the week.

Ontario is expected to receive 1,076,000 doses of the paediatric Pfizer vaccine from the federal government.

Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, Elliott said the shipments will arrive in two batches.

"I believe the shipment for today is about a little over 400,000 and then there's a shipment of a little over 600,000."

The province will then distribute the doses to public health units, pharmacies and primary care settings based on population. The City of Toronto, for example, said that it will have 20,000 appointments available for five to 11 year olds starting Tuesday at 8 a.m.

The paediatric dose of the Pfizer vaccine was approved by Health Canada late last week.

In Ontario, nearly 85 per cent of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 have received a first dose of a vaccine. More than 80 per cent are considered fully vaccinated.