B.C. kids aged 5 to 11 can now get vaccinated. Here’s what you need to know

Click to play video: 'B.C. children begin receiving pediatric COVID-19 vaccines'
B.C. children begin receiving pediatric COVID-19 vaccines
A mix of excitement and relief as many young children between the age of 5 and 11 start receiving their first COVID-19 vaccinations. Richard Zussman reports. – Nov 29, 2021

The first group of 5- to 11-year- children in B.C. can now be immunized against COVID-19.

B.C. is the last province to start administering vaccines to kids because of distribution challenges linked to the recent flooding and distances to various corners of the province.

Here is what you need to know if you want to get your child vaccinated or if haven’t yet made up your mind.

How many kids are eligible to get the shot?

Approximately 350,000 children aged five to 11 are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 pediatric vaccine, with the youngest kids being eligible on or after their fifth birthday.

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Is the pediatric vaccine different than the one for those 12 and older?

The pediatric vaccine is a smaller dose. During dosing studies, vaccine manufacturer Pfizer compared the adult dose, which is 30 micrograms, to various smaller doses. It concluded that one-third of an adult dose, or 10 micrograms, gave just as strong an immune response in younger children as the adult formulation.

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Who approved the vaccine for children?

Health Canada reviewed the research provided by Pfizer.

The independent regulator’s responsibility was to review safety data on how well the vaccine works in children that age and to review the manufacturing data.

“This rigorous and independent review really can give us confidence that, as it’s approved by Health Canada, it is safe for use, and we can trust that in our children,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a news conference last week.

Click to play video: 'B.C. parents urged to register kids for COVID-19 vaccine as U.S. green lights Pfizer'
B.C. parents urged to register kids for COVID-19 vaccine as U.S. green lights Pfizer

Public health officials have said kids are less likely to get severely ill from COVID. So why should they get vaccinated?

Henry said it’s important for a variety of reasons, such as allowing children and their families to get over some of the more severe pandemic disruptions, especially as the fourth wave paired with the Delta variant continue.

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Although B.C. has recorded few cases of hospitalization among children, kids in this age group now make up 20 per cent of current cases.

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The vaccine also reduces the risk of transmission to children’s close contacts, particularly people who are older or who are at risk of more severe illness.

Where can I learn more about how the vaccine is safe for kids?

The province has provided various online links to several experts speaking about the vaccine’s safety. BC Children’s Hospital has provided this information sheet.

Have there been any adverse events for B.C. children aged 12 to 17 who got the vaccine?

Officials have said 133 adverse events have been recorded following immunization of children in that age group. Most of them have been mild, such as fever, a headache that lasts for several days, or a rash and swelling at the site of the injection.

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How can I register a child for the shot?

The province is asking parents and guardians to register their 5- to 11-year-olds on its Get Vaccinated website, by calling 1-833-838-2323 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT seven days a week, or by visiting a BC Service centre.

Once a child is registered, the province will notify the parent or guardian when it is time to book. Invites are going out in the order of registration.

Where will kids get the shot?

Both specific clinics for kids and mixed clinics vaccinating all eligible British Columbians will be available.

There will be child-friendly and child-appropriate attributes in both spaces to make sure children and their parents or guardians feel comfortable. There will also be quiet places if a child is having difficulty.

With the mass vaccination clinics no longer open, most of the pediatric clinics will be built into the facilities the province is using for the booster campaign.

In some cases, the province will also use schools, though immunizations won’t be administered during school hours.

Pharmacies will not be used to vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds.

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How soon will I be able to get my child vaccinated? 

Appointments started taking place on Monday, Nov. 29. The government expects to get through this age group by the end of January.

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If I have more than one child, can they all get vaccinated at the same time? 

Yes. You can take more than one child to get vaccinated at once.

They each need to have their own appointment for the same day and clinic, but the appointments don’t need to be at the same time.

You can arrive at the clinic at any of the appointment times you booked, and all family members will receive the shot at the same time.

For example, if you have two children to get vaccinated after school on Dec. 16:

  • Book one appointment for 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 16
  • Book another appointment at any available time at the same clinic on Dec. 16
  • Take both children to the appointment at 3:30 p.m.

Can kids show up alone or with friends to get their shot?

Kids in five to 11 years age range require consent from their parents, legal guardian, foster parent or caretaker within the family, such as a grandparent. This can be a verbal consent given at the clinic.

As to whether another adult, such as a teacher, can take a group of children to a clinic, they must bring written consent with the contact information or their parents or guardians.

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19 vaccine timeline for B.C. children'
COVID-19 vaccine timeline for B.C. children

Can I drop in to a clinic if I don’t have an appointment?

No. The province will not allow drop-ins for the 5- to 11-year-old group.

If parents are divorced or separated, how will consent work?

If parents are divorced, separated or have never lived together and do not agree on vaccinating their child, the parent in favour of vaccination can go ahead and register as long as they are the child’s guardian under the Family Law Act and have the parental responsibility related to giving or refusing consent for medical and health-related treatments.

What should I do if my child is nervous about getting the shot?

The province has created various materials to help kids and parents. This comic is designed to help kids feel confident about getting their vaccine.

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Will children be required to show proof of vaccination at various places once they’ve had the shot?

No, kids aged five to 11 will not be part of the BC Vaccine Card program.

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