Everything you need to know about COVID-19 immunizations for BC kids

Nov 23 2021, 9:43 pm

Children between the ages of five and 11 will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting next week.

On Tuesday afternoon, the provincial government laid out details surrounding the pediatric vaccine for younger children and how it will be rolled out to families in British Columbia.

The announcement was given by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Executive Lead of BC’s Immunization Rollout Team, Dr. Penny Ballem.

Approval for the pediatric vaccine was granted by Health Canada last week. Similar to the immunization strategy for older youth and adults, the vaccine will be administered in a two-dose series. It also uses a lower dose, 10 micrograms, which is one-third of the dose formulated for older age groups.

While Health Canada recommended a 21-day interval, BC will follow the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) recommendation, which opts for an eight-week interval between doses. Health officials say this takes into account real-world data, which suggests stronger, longer-lasting protection from a slightly longer interval.

The province will also allow children to receive the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine alongside the Influenza vaccine if necessary.

How the rollout will work

Families and children are asked to register in the Get Vaccinated BC system in order to receive invitations. The system will then provide options in terms of clinics and locations. Approximately 91,000 children of the 350,00o in the five to 11 age cohort have already registered.

Invitations will roll out starting November 29 and, for this age group, will be ordered according to when children are registered. There will be no particular priority groups for this cohort.

“We don’t want to make children wait to receive this vaccine given the rates of transmission we’re seeing,” Henry said.

Health officials say that this is being done so that families can bring all eligible children to an immunization clinic at the same time. Appointments are mandatory, and drop-ins are highly discouraged unless it’s for an entire family that is trying to get vaccinated.

What parents need to know

In order for a child to receive a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, they must have verbal consent from either a parent or legal guardian — or written consent if they’re being accompanied by an adult who isn’t their legal guardian.

They must have had their fifth birthday in order to receive immunization — vaccines won’t be available to four-year-olds who are set to turn five within the calendar year. Additionally, while 11-year-olds will be given a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, they will receive the dosage for the following age group if they turn 12 before their second dose.

Health officials say that over 3 million children have been immunized in the United States, and no additional safety signals have risen. Temporary side effects from the vaccine are similar to those seen in adults and can include sore arms, fever, and fatigue.

Creating child-friendly clinics

Health authorities have also worked to add child-friendly components to immunization clinics. When families are invited to book appointments for their children, they will be able to select from three different clinic types.

Family clinics are smaller spaces that are being strategically used for five to 11-year-olds and their immediate families. Pharmacies across the province will make up many of the 12+ clinics, which will not offer a pediatric vaccine but will carry the booster dose, as well as dose 1 and dose 2.

Community immunization clinics will serve as all-age clinics, although there will be additional resources for young children. This includes using quiet spaces, as well as healthcare providers who are familiar with childhood vaccinations and creating a safe space.

Schools will also be used as immunization sites, although they will only operate before or after school hours.

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