Alberta parents plan to drive to U.S. to access COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5

Click to play video: 'Albertan parents plan U.S. road trip to access pediatric COVID-19 vaccine' Albertan parents plan U.S. road trip to access pediatric COVID-19 vaccine
Canada's youngest citizens still don't have access to protection against COVID-19. Some parents say things aren't moving fast enough here in Canada, prompting a vaccination road trip across the border. Morgan Black reports. – Jun 24, 2022

As parents wait for Health Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine approval for children under five years old, some Alberta families have decided to embark on summer road trips to get their kids vaccinated.

David Cloutier is planning to drive from Calgary to Montana to get his two kids under five vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’re just not seeing the progress on being able to get vaccines for kids under five in Canada,” he said. “My spouse and I were looking online and making calls to providers in the U.S.

“They said they would be able to vaccinate us as Canadians if we came across the border.”

In the United States, COVID-19 vaccinations for kids five and under began Tuesday.

Read more: U.S. FDA green lights COVID-19 vaccines for kids under five

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Health Canada is currently reviewing Moderna’s pediatric vaccine for kids aged six months to five years, but has yet to receive a submission from Pfizer for the under-five age group.

Cloutier said his kids are heading to daycare and preeschool in the fall and he’s looking for additional protection for them.

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Fauci: COVID-19 vaccines for children under five have met ‘gold standard’ of testing – Jun 23, 2022

“We trust the data and review of the agencies in the (United) States,” he said. “Here in Alberta, we have an age group that haven’t had one of the most basic tools to protect themselves.

“It’s a big priority for us.”

Read more: Nearly 20 million lives saved by COVID-19 vaccines during their first year: study

Dr. Cora-Mihaela Constantinescu is a pediatric infectious disease specialist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.

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She said parents of young kids travelling elsewhere to get the vaccine shows how badly they want a return to normal.

“These vaccines have been available to adults for many months,” Constantinescu said. “They have totally shifted this pandemic.

“But for those under five, their lives are very different.

“Parents are the ones who make the decision for their children. Obviously it’s a very personal decision. But it shows how desperate some parents have been through this pandemic to protect their children.”

Mom Liz Benfield said she is thrilled to be able to get her kids, aged four and two, their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Her family will head to Montana this weekend.

“We’re kind of fortunate because we have (extended) family down there,” she said. “We’ll get them vaccinated on Tuesday morning and then head home.”

Benfield, who works in the health-care field, said she has kept her kids close to home to avoid exposing them to COVID-19.

“I feel like we’ve been essentially living in lockdown since March 2020. We’re pretty excited,” she said. “With the removal of the measures, it’s felt unsafe to do things with the kids because there’s been so many removals.”

“It shows you that when this will be available in Canada it will be a huge relief for parents,” Constantinescu said.

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–With files from Saba Aziz, Global News

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