Interior Health has begun offering pediatric COVID-19 vaccination to children aged five to 11.
The health authority is encouraging parents to take their kids to a vaccination clinic to get immunized.
“The pediatric Pfizer vaccine is available for five to 11-year-olds in B.C. It is a smaller dose of the same vaccine administered to millions of people globally over the past year,” said Dr. Sue Pollock, interim chief medical health officer for Interior Health. “There were no severe reactions in children during clinical trials and any mild side effects (sore arm, fever) subsided in a day or two. In our clinics across IH, specially trained pediatric immunizers and public health nurses are on hand to provide care and support children receiving the vaccine.”
Interior Health officials noted that the vaccine is safe for children.
“Data from studies of children aged five to 11 has shown that the vaccine is 91 per cent effective against preventing COVID-19 infections, and even better for preventing severe illness and hospitalization,” explained Dr. Pollock. “This level of immunity is remarkable. Still, we know that the body takes time build its immune response and that full immunity is achieved about seven days after the second dose.”
According to Dr. Pollock, children five to 11 made up 16 per cent of all COVID-19 cases since September 1st. This represented almost 2,000 cases, putting children at the highest rate of infection of all age groups.
“While most of these children experience mild to moderate illness from the COVID-19 virus, some children can get severely ill requiring hospital admission while others can have lingering symptoms or health issues long after their infection. Vaccination will help reduce this risk and these impacts.”
The health authority added that it is reasonable for parents to have questions about the vaccine, therefore it is important for them to have access to factual information.
“When children are immunized, not only are they better equipped to fight off infection, but they’re less likely to need to miss school or social activities that are important to their well-being,” said Dr. Pollock. “They’re also less likely to spread the virus to others, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbours or people with compromised immune systems. Don’t delay the benefits by waiting longer than necessary.”