With the province now making COVID-19 vaccines available for kids aged six months to five years, the region’s medical officer of health is addressing concerns that parents and guardians may have.
“It is a personal decision for parents. I definitely recommend that all children who are eligible get vaccinated because it’s going to be something that’s going to train your child’s immune system to recognize and fight off COVID-19. And for most children it doesn’t lead to a serious illness, but for some children it does,” said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang.
Kids in this age group will be given a reduced dose of the Moderna vaccine.
“Although most children who get infected have no symptoms or mild symptoms, some can become very sick and require hospitalization. The vaccine offered to children aged six months to under five years is a lower dose that is safe and effective at protecting this age group from COVID-19. Even if a child has already had COVID-19, vaccination will help to further improve the immune response and provide more robust protection,” Dr. Kieran Moore, chief medical officer of health said in a release last week.
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As is the case for adults, the Omicron variant has made it easier for kids to get infected with the virus, Wang said.
“It’s very easy to get COVID-19 nowadays; so many people who have avoided it for two years have got it now.”
Parents can book vaccines for their children by using the provincial COVID-19 vaccine portal. The region’s public health website provides several suggestions for making getting the vaccine an easier experience for kids. This includes talking to kids ahead of time and being honest about what it feels like. Instead of telling them “it won’t hurt,” parents are encouraged to say something like “there may be a pinch or something pushing for a few seconds.”
Wang said there are two concerns that parents may have.
“One is, they have heard that it isn’t as severe in children overall. That’s true; children tend to have, like healthy young adults, to not have as many severe outcomes. But there can be some children that get very severely ill or worse. And vaccines help protect against that possibility. And the other thing is, they may be thinking, ‘well, this is a new vaccine and I kind of want to see how it’s gone to date so far.’ What we’ve seen as the vaccine has a very good safety profile for all age groups for whom it’s been recommended,” Wang said.
“It’s also gone through rigorous trials for all the age groups for which it’s been approved,” she added.
Ultimately it is still up to the parents, she noted.
“It’s something that I definitely recommend, but we also have to respect that it is a [parental] decision.”