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Some parents call COVID-19 vaccine passports ‘devastating’ for unvaccinated Alberta children

Click to play video: 'Parent group calls COVID-19 vaccine passports ‘devastating’ for unvaccinated Alberta children' Parent group calls COVID-19 vaccine passports ‘devastating’ for unvaccinated Alberta children
WATCH: A parents group is calling on Alberta's major cities or the province to overturn facility mandates requiring older children be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to ban any such policy for younger children. Kendra Slugoski explains – Nov 23, 2021

A group of parents is calling on Alberta’s major cities or the province to overturn facility mandates requiring older children be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to ban any such policy for younger children.

Read more: Alberta expecting pediatric COVID-19 vaccine in coming weeks; shots to be administered by AHS

As the COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 11 rolls out across the country, Families for Choice says it’s paramount vaccine requirements are not put in place for young kids to play sports or attend public recreation facilities.

Read more: 1st batch of COVID-19 vaccines for kids lands in Canada

Standing outside Calgary’s YMCA, which requires proof of vaccination for anyone aged 12 or older, Cathryn Carruthers said too many children have been forced to the sidelines of organized sport.

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“You can’t go to a Flames game, you can’t ski,” said Carruthers.

Click to play video: 'Hinshaw explains why kids 5-11 won’t require COVID-19 vaccine passport if vaccine is approved for them' Hinshaw explains why kids 5-11 won’t require COVID-19 vaccine passport if vaccine is approved for them
Hinshaw explains why kids 5-11 won’t require COVID-19 vaccine passport if vaccine is approved for them – Nov 16, 2021

“For us, this issue is more about mandates and seclusion, exclusions and segregation and discrimination of children, versus the vaccine itself.

“It’s very concerning. In fact, it’s devastating for these families and kids.

“These kids have had so much disruption for almost two years. They need to connect with their peers, they need to participate in sports.”

Click to play video: 'Abuse and pushback to COVID-19 rules at rec centres in Sherwood Park' Abuse and pushback to COVID-19 rules at rec centres in Sherwood Park
Abuse and pushback to COVID-19 rules at rec centres in Sherwood Park – Sep 28, 2021

On its website, Families for Choice stated its members are vaccinated and unvaccinated against COVID-19, but united in their mission to safeguard the rights of families to choose whether and when to vaccinate their children.

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“COVID-19 vaccination status should never be a basis upon which to exclude or segregate children,” said the written statement.

Click to play video: 'Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to be required at Alberta ski hills' Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to be required at Alberta ski hills
Proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to be required at Alberta ski hills – Nov 2, 2021

Alberta does not require youth under the age of 18 to show proof of vaccination, but Calgary and Edmonton brought in their own mandates.

The restrictions exemption program for Alberta states that proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is not required for youth participating in activities, but that an operator may choose to require that.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province had no plans to extend the vaccine mandate to pediatric (5-11) patients.

Watch: Hinshaw explains why kids 5-11 won’t require COVID-19 vaccine passport if vaccine is approved for them

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Carruthers said the cost for families choosing not to vaccinate their children and show a negative COVID-19 test instead is adding up.

“Nobody can afford an extra mortgage just for testing.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta Teachers’ Association hopes Pfizer vaccine for kids will smooth out bumpy school year' Alberta Teachers’ Association hopes Pfizer vaccine for kids will smooth out bumpy school year
Alberta Teachers’ Association hopes Pfizer vaccine for kids will smooth out bumpy school year – Nov 20, 2021

Last month, Hinshaw credited vaccine passports for a “slow and steady decline in hospitalizations.”

Read more: Hinshaw credits vaccine passport and restrictions for decline in Alberta COVID-19 hospitalizations

Health Canada said children under the age of 12 are leading the country with COVID-19 infections.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical advisor, said: “The department has determined that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risks in this younger age group.”

Read more: Children under 12 leading new COVID-19 infections across Canada: PHAC

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Carruthers said families should consult with their doctors, but the mother of two said she and many other parents believe their choice whether or when to vaccinate their children should not impact their extracurricular activities.

“There is no relationship more sacred than that between parent and child,” Carruthers said.

She is worried vaccine passports could affect the physical and mental health of teens and said she has heard stories of friends not being allowed to spend time together because of their vaccination status.

“There’s a lot of very worried parents out there.”

Click to play video: 'At-home COVID-19 rapid test kits now available for k-6 Alberta schools with outbreaks' At-home COVID-19 rapid test kits now available for k-6 Alberta schools with outbreaks
At-home COVID-19 rapid test kits now available for k-6 Alberta schools with outbreaks – Oct 27, 2021

Ealier this month, Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange sent an open letter to school boards reminding them COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory for Alberta students.

“Individual family choices need to be respected,” said LaGrange, “and students should not be stigmatized for their vaccination status.”

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Alberta Health Services said COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for children and parents are able to pre-register online.

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