When COVID-19 vaccinations open for young children on Tuesday, Tarin Springer and her 18-month-old son Flynn will be among the first in line.
“We want him to be protected and help protect the community,” Springer told Global News.
“We’ve had really good experiences, all of us being vaccinated, and we’ve been lucky not to get COVID so far. … We just want him to have the best protection possible.”
Starting Tuesday, British Columbia will begin offering pediatric doses of the Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccine to children aged six months old to five years old.
Children are administered two 25 microgram doses of the vaccine, a quarter of the dosage for adults, about eight weeks apart.
Health Canada approved the vaccine for young children in July.
Clinical trials for the vaccine, which were conducted after Omicron became the dominant variant of the virus, found it to be about 44 per cent effective for kids six months to two years and close to 38 per cent effective for those two to six years of age, Health Canada said.
“We need to protect our littlest little ones because this is going to give them their own suit of armour so to speak, against COVID — especially the four-year-olds who are entering kindergarten,” Vancouver physician Dr. Anna Wolak said.
Wolak said vaccination is the one thing parents can do to give their children protection that isn’t reliant on the behaviour of other people.
“Similar to how we do all the other childhood vaccines, we want to send our children out into the world as armed as they possibly can be,” she said.
While Wolak is hopeful parents take advantage of the protection the vaccine offers, the campaign to vaccinate children against COVID-19 has not been as successful as with adults.
While immunization was approved for children ages five and up in November, just 46 per cent of children aged five to 11 have had two doses of vaccine, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Wolak attributed that reticence to high volumes of misinformation circulating online, along with the perception the virus is “mild.”
She said while most children do experience milder symptoms than adults, a small percentage of them can end up in the ICU with the post-COVID syndrome known as MIS-C. Others may simply develop severe symptoms, which can be far more distressing for an infant than for an adult.
B.C. has documented 32 cases of MIS-C to date. Children under the age of 10 have accounted for about two per cent of B.C. hospitalizations, and just 68 of 5,747 critical care admissions to date. According to the BCCDC, one child under the age of 10 has been confirmed to have died of COVID-19 since April.
“The biggest thing I ask parents to do is to come to me with their particular concerns,” Wolak said.
“There’s a lot of disinformation floating out there in social media, and there’s a lot of messaging that’s going out to parents. I want to make sure they’re getting the best possible information and that I address each of their concerns properly.”
In Springer’s case, there was no hesitation as to whether she would get Flynn vaccinated.
“Not at all. I trust the science,” she said.
Springer said she understands that others may not be comfortable getting their kids vaccinated, but said the tone of online discourse about the issue has become toxic.
“That’s their prerogative (not to have their kids immunized) — if that’s how they feel, that’s how they feel, but I feel very strongly for it,” she said.
“Just respect each other’s choices. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. Just don’t attack each other.”
— with files from Catherine Urquhart and Teresa Wright