KITCHENER -- Children between the ages of 12 and 15 are now able to pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

On Wednesday, Health Canada said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe for children aged 12 and up.

WDG Public Health officials said they're not booking appointments for this group yet, but said pre-registering ensures they'll be able to contact people as soon as appointments are available.

"I do know we're expecting many, many more doses of Pfizer vaccine beginning this month and into June, than we had in previous months," Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum said. "We have the ability to scale up our number of doses per day in the community, and so if we're able to do that, we're going to work our way through the age groups quite quickly and get to those younger aged groups hopefully later into the early summer period."

He said an exact date will depend on how things with groups currently booking appointments and vaccine supply.

There are around 14,000 people between 12 and 15 years old in the WDG health region, according to Dr. Tenenbaum. Since Wednesday, 1,572 kids have registered in the group, or just over 10 per cent.

“Our message for children who may be eligible for the vaccine now, is the importance of all of us doing our part,” Dr. Tenenbaum said.

He encouraged parents to talk to their children about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

"How safe it is, how it protects them, and how it protects their friends and community," Dr. Tenenbaum said.

The health unit knew Health Canada would likely approve Pfizer's use for younger age groups.

"It's not a question of if, it's a question of when," Dr. Tenenbaum said. "Now that we know that, we've invited people to get into the system so we have their contact information and we can get these appointments booked pretty quickly."

Dr. Tenenbaum said while children may not understand the COVID-19 pandemic as well as some adults, they've been very willing to do what's asked of them, including changing their lives, avoiding seeing their friends and staying home.

"Children have really come at this pandemic with some energy and gusto that's been incredible," he said. "I think if we can carry that over into the vaccination effort, we'll help get our community through this."

Last month, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph opened pre-registration to everyone 16 and over, but said appointments might not be available until June.

Waterloo Region has also opened pre-registration to people aged 12 to 17 who are living in congregate or developmental service settings, as well as those with at-risk conditions.