COVID-19 Vaccines and Children – an Important Conversation￼
Health Canada has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COMIRNATY® mRNA vaccine for children ages five to 11. (This vaccine uses Acuitas Therapeutics’ lipid nanoparticle delivery system.)
All vaccines approved for use in Canada undergo a strict testing, review and approval process. The Government of Canada has useful information on COVID-19 vaccines for children, including the review process for approval. You can read it here.
The world has been facing the COVID-19 pandemic for two years now, and it continues to have a significant impact on everyone’s physical and mental well-being – including children and youth. Getting everyone back to some sense of normalcy would greatly help the collective anxiety and ongoing worry around COVID-19, and the more people who get vaccinated – including children and youth – the more that will help.
There are multiple reports showing that many parents are choosing not to get their children vaccinated, even though vaccines are available and recommended. In fact, in mid-January 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference that not enough children are being vaccinated and he urged parents to do so. You can see that news conference here.
Global News ran a piece that addressed reasons why some parents are hesitant to get their children vaccinated. In the piece, the subject matter expert, Dr. Ran Goldman, a professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, encouraged parents with concerns to speak to their family health care provider. He emphasized the importance of speaking to someone with knowledge and expertise about the vaccines, and he said that past campaigns have shown that this is an effective approach to help parents make an informed decision.
CBC recently ran a piece that talks about how kids, teens and even newborns are now among a rising number of Canadians being hospitalized with COVID-19, as infections from the Omicron variant surge across the country.
According to the reporting, multiple hospitals – some of Canada’s largest pediatric facilities in B.C. Ontario and Quebec – have seen an increase in young patients, including infants, who are being hospitalized because of COVID-19 infection.
In another article in YaleMedicine.org, a pediatric infectious disease specialist said: “The majority of our hospitalized kids are there because they weren’t eligible for the vaccine or they didn’t get it.” You can read the article here.
The highly respected Mayo Clinic has provided a useful Q&A that speaks directly to why it is important for children to be vaccinated. You can read it here. It points out that if a child does get COVID-19, a vaccine could “prevent him or her from becoming severely ill or experiencing short- or long-term complications.” It also says that “children with other health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes or asthma, might be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19.”
Vaccines help the body to fight off the virus. Anyone who has received the vaccine – adult, youth or child – is less likely to contract the virus and less likely to pass it on to someone else. It’s essential to consider grandparents, other family members, and adults or children with underlying medical conditions who might have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Most children go to school and have group activities that they participate in – and this means that there is a risk of exposure to COVID-19. Masks are important and so are social distancing and hand washing/sanitizing – but getting vaccinated is the most effective way to help stop the spread of the virus.
It is crucial to get your information from a knowledgeable source, to learn the facts, and to make sure that you are dealing with verified, scientific data and evidence-based material when it comes to deciding whether to have your child vaccinated.
The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control has some useful information and artwork that children can colour in to help them prepare for the vaccination process.
CaringForKids is a great website, developed by the Canadian Paediatric Society, that offers parents and guardians reliable, science-based information about their child’s health and well-being – including information on COVID-19 vaccines.
The Government of British Columbia has a helpful website that talks about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, how to book an appointment, and what to expect.
HealthLink BC also has useful information on the benefits of immunizing your child. It is worth a read.
If you have concerns about having your child vaccinated, please speak to your family’s health care provider and let them know how you are feeling. They are an accessible source of knowledge that is based on accurate data, facts and verified information.