By Lisa Gervais
With Health Canada’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11, local health care providers say they are working together to help families understand why vaccination is safe, effective and recommended for kids.
Health Canada has given the green light for the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine to be provided to children ages five to 11 years. On Nov. 22, the Ontario government announced that parents can start booking appointments through the provincial booking system starting Nov. 23.
Locally, parents can book appointments for their children at COVID-19 vaccination clinics scheduled for Nov. 29 and onwards. Appointments are encouraged at all HKPR clinics for first, second or third doses, but walk-ins will also be accepted between 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at all clinics.
“Children can contribute to the spread of the virus at home and in other settings,” said Dr. Natalie Bocking, medical officer of health for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “In order for us to most effectively build community protection against COVID-19, we need to get as many people across all age groups, including children, fully vaccinated.”
To help answer questions parents may still have about vaccinating their child, the HKPR District Health Unit is teaming up with local primary care providers to offer a virtual panel discussion entitled Fast Facts on COVID-19 Vacs for Kids.
“We know some parents are questioning the need and the safety of the vaccine and this information session is the perfect opportunity to talk about those concerns and help clear up some of the misinformation and fear that may be circulating,” said Dr. Bocking. “While children are less likely to get really sick from COVID-19, there are still many reasons why they need the protection offered by the vaccine.”
When: Thursday, Dec. 2 from 6 to 7 p.m.
What: A virtual meeting with a panel of local health care providers. The session will be live streamed on YouTube and the recording provided after the meeting.
Why: The panel will share information on COVID-19 and the vaccine for children.
Who: Panel participants will include: Dr. Sheila Mae Young – family physician in the City of Kawartha Lakes (moderator); Dr. Bocking; Dr. Emma Smith, family physician with Northumberland Family Health Team and Brooke Mountney, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit.
How: visit hkpr.on.ca for information on how to view the session and pre-submit questions.
Dr. Bocking said she understands parents may have many questions about COVID-19 vaccines. The Dec. 2 information session is designed to provide information about the vaccine, how to prepare children for vaccination, potential side effects of the vaccine, and the ways to book a vaccination appointment. With the variety of panelists, parents can have their questions answered and will receive information from public health representatives, as well as family physicians, the health unit said.
Parents/guardians with questions about COVID-19 vaccine for children are also encouraged to speak with their health care providers. The SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service also offers appointment-based phone service that provides a safe, judgement-free space to discuss COVID-19 vaccine for children and youth. To book an appointment visit COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service (sickkids.ca). As well, the Health Unit also has information, resources and videos on its website (hkpr.on.ca) for families to help decide what’s right for their child. Information on vaccination clinic locations, date and times for children is also available on the site.