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Alberta kids under 5 now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines: ‘We’ve been waiting’

Click to play video: 'Alberta kids under 5 now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines: ‘We’ve been waiting’' Alberta kids under 5 now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines: ‘We’ve been waiting’
WATCH: Kids under five in Alberta are finally able to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Morgan Black has more on day one of vaccinations for the last remaining age group – Aug 2, 2022

Starting today, Alberta children aged six months to five years can access their first COVID-19 vaccine.

On Aug. 2, appointments for first doses can be booked, with vaccine administration also beginning on Tuesday.

This vaccine is being administered at Alberta Health Services clinics around the province. First-dose appointments must be booked at bookvaccine.alberta.ca or by calling Health Link at 811.

Read more: Alberta to make COVID-19 vaccines available to kids under 5 on Aug. 2

“I came to bring my my two kids to get their first COVID shot,” said Erin Doxsey-Whitfield in Edmonton.

“It’s super happy. We’ve been waiting a super long time, it feels. It’s nice to finally get this one out of the way. We’ll get the next one in about eight weeks and then we’ll feel a bit safer.”

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Doxsey-Whitfield said having her children vaccinated gives her family more confidence, especially going into the fall.

“My son’s in daycare, so it’s just nice that he’ll be extra protected with all his little friends there.”

She said there were lots of young children inside the AHS centre.

“We took some headphones in so my son could listen to music. It was good. The staff were wonderful, really happy and helpful.”

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B.C. launches COVID-19 vaccination program for young children – Aug 2, 2022

Lawrence, 9, and his brother Bryce, 4, went to the vaccine appointment together.

“It’s his first time ever for him,” Lawrence said. “My brother was getting his COVID shot and he didn’t cry like me.”

“I didn’t!” Bryce added. “It was fine.”

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Lawrence had some advice for other supportive siblings.

“You can cheer them on, hold their hand while they’re getting their shot. You could comfort him by sitting next to him.”

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Almost 2,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines given to Sask. kids under 5 – Jul 29, 2022

Kimberley McMann also felt it was a long wait to get the chance to have her four-year-old daughter Gemma vaccinated.

“I was really frustrated to know we had something like 43,000 doses just sitting there and all the other provinces at least had a way of booking… I felt left behind a lot, frankly, from this government, and this was just another example of that.”

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Still, she said Tuesday was a big day.

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“Excited, relieved, proud. She did a great job.

“The risk assessment is entirely different now that all members of my family have been vaccinated,” McMann said. “Absolutely she’ll be in play school in September and it makes a huge difference — a real sense of relief that we’ve got a little more protection for her.”

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Health Minister Jason Copping said 3,617 appointments had been made for first doses of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for this age group.

Nearly 1,000 appointments were booked for Tuesday, Copping said.

He added that 11,658 appointments were booked for adult fourth doses in the next 28 days. Anyone 18 years and older can get a fourth dose five months after their third dose. Just over 250,000 fourth doses have been administered to date, he said.

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It is recommended that children aged six months to 11 years receive a primary series of two doses with an interval of at least eight weeks between the first and second dose, or a primary series of three doses if they are moderately to severely immunocompromised with an interval of four to eight weeks between each dose.

“While most children are not at high risk of severe outcomes, children under five have higher risks than those age five to 11,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Read more: Health Canada approves first COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5

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“I think parents of children that age should be very happy that finally their children get to join the party and can be immunized against COVID,” said Dr. Joan Robinson, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

Robinson said the vaccine helps prevent severe disease and hospitalization.

“Bad outcomes are real in this age group,” she said.

“If you look at children aged six months to four years of age in Alberta, for the first six months of this year, there were over 300 admissions with a child who was positive for COVID. For roughly a third of those, COVID was the entire reason for the admission. A third of them, COVID had nothing to do with the admission, for example, a child who broke their leg and happened to have COVID at the same time.

“It certainly does appear that we could probably have prevented at least 100 admissions in Alberta, and maybe a larger number, if the vaccine is as effective as it is in older people at preventing severe infection.”

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COVID-19: Health Canada approves vaccine for children under 5 – Jul 14, 2022

On July 14, Health Canada approved Moderna’s Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six months to five years. It’s the first approved vaccine against the coronavirus for the nearly two million kids in that age range in the country.

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Other provinces in Canada have already started administering the shot, or are booking appointments for kids under five.

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