More than 90,000 B.C. children aged five to 11 have already been registered for COVID-19 vaccinations, as distribution of a special child-size dose gets underway to community clinics around the province.
Appointments are required for children in the newly eligible age group, with almost 90 per cent of people aged 12 and up already vaccinated. Family groups can register and receive their appointments at the same time.
Parents can phone or go online to register their children aged five to 11. B.C.’s Get Vaccinated phone centre is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week at 1-833-838-2323. Registration and booking appointments online can be done here.
Public health officials say clinics will require that children must have at least turned five, and verbal approval for the vaccination must be given by an accompanying parent or guardian. If parents or guardians are not present at the clinic, they should provide their consent in writing, with their contact information to confirm it if necessary.
Adults and older children who have not yet completed their vaccinations can also receive shots at family clinics, and walk-in family members will be accommodated as much as possible.
There are about 350,000 B.C. children eligible for the child vaccine, which is one third of an adult dose, and they will mostly be immunized at community clinics, with some schools to be used outside of school hours.
“We’ve had a strong signal from parents, they want to be present for this,” said Dr. Penny Ballam, a former deputy health minister who is heading the vaccination campaigns.
Last week Health Canada approved a 10 microgram dose of Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11. It is a two-dose program, with a second dose that can be administered after at least 21 days. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that the best interval between child doses is eight weeks, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a briefing Nov. 23.
Henry said the child dose has been delivered to three million children aged five to 11 in the U.S. so far, with no “safety signals” about its use. For B.C. children aged 12 to 17, the rate of “adverse events” from an adult dose, such as allergy or anaphylactic reaction has been 2.7 per 100,000. Only 14 cases required medical treatment and all patients recovered. That is “much lower than risk of infection from COVID-19,” which has resulted in 19 hospitalizations and cases of “long COVID” in children, Henry said.
The B.C. public health teams have assembled resources for parents to learn more about child vaccination, including a “frequently asked questions” page, Health Canada’s independent authorization for the child vaccine, how to deal with kids who are afraid of needles, how to teach your child “calm breathing,” and a video for kids called How to Handle Your Shots Like A Champ.