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Quebec children aged 5-11 still seeing lowest COVID-19 vaccination numbers

Click to play video: 'Quebec children still the lowest age group to get the COVID-19 jab' Quebec children still the lowest age group to get the COVID-19 jab
WATCH: The 5- to 11-year-old age group remains the lowest vaccination rate in Quebec and the numbers barely budged during the holidays. Health care workers are trying to get more youths vaccinated before in-class learning resumes in less than two weeks. Phil Carpenter reports. – Jan 4, 2022

In the six weeks since the rollout of vaccination against COVID-19 among children 5 to 11 years old in Quebec began, the inoculation rate has been lower than expected.

For Montreal, as of Jan. 4, 2022, only about half have gotten their first dose, compared to more than 75 per cent in the 12 to 17 age group, according to figures provided by the provincial government.  The Quebec government had hoped that most kids in the under-11 age group would have received their first shot by now.

Rates vary across the island, with up to 73 per cent of kids in the West Island municipality of Beaconsfield having their first shot to as low as 25 per cent in St. Leonard.  Experts say there are a variety of reasons for the low rates.

“I think one of the main things that has been limiting the vaccine uptake in this group is that parents are scared,” said McGill University’s Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist with a degree in epidemiology.

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Read more: COVID-19: Unicorns, therapy dogs help Quebec vaccinate children

Pediatrician Dr. Elaine Champagne said she’s hearing from parents that they’re worried about what isn’t yet known.

“That vaccines might be dangerous for [the kids] over the long term,” she told Global News.

But according to Dr. Simon Bacon, behavioural epidemiologist and chair in behavioural medicine at Concordia University, there is another reason which happens with all vaccines.

“It’s this balance of knowing that they actively gave their child the vaccine and if they have a side effect, feeling responsible for it,” he explained.

If the child gets sick from the disease, according to him, they can claim that it’s out of their control and feel less guilt.

But he also believes logistics may help explain the low rate so far.

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“Trying to get children 5 to 11 mass vaccinated just before the holiday period and with outbreaks happening, it was probably difficult for parents to get the shots done,” he pointed out.

He and other experts believe that over time, the vaccination numbers in that group will creep up.

Read more: Cough, cold or COVID-19? Doctors say with symptoms overlapping, it’s impossible to tell

Still, Champagne has a message for hesitant parents.

“Sometimes if you have your seatbelt on, it will lacerate your spleen or your liver and kill you, but most of the time it will keep you safe in an accident,” she reasoned.

“I believe the COVID vaccines are like that.”

She said any risk is far outweighed by the benefits, not just to individuals but to the broader community, too.

 

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