'Get the vaccine before the virus': Mom relieved her kids can get vaccinated, doctor calls for immunization at school
With nearly 400,000 Alberta children now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19, an Edmonton mother is expressing her relief while a doctor is calling on the province to improve its rollout.
As of Wednesday morning, Alberta parents could start making appointments for five- to 11-year-old children at 120 health clinics across the province.
For one Edmonton mom, being able to book in her two daughters, who are five and seven, for their first dose offered immense relief for the family.
“I’m really excited, but I think my biggest relief will be two weeks after their second dose when they have all that immunity onboard,” Amanda Brayall said.
“We’re going to get the vaccine before the virus.”
Dr. Tehseen Ladha told CTV News Edmonton doses for kids are different from adult doses. Adults receive 30 micrograms of the vaccine whereas kids in the five- to 11- age group get 10 micrograms.
“Children still had a really good immune response. It produced lots of antibodies but it minimized side effects.”
But Ladha has a few concerns with how the vaccine is being rolled out by birthday rather than birth year and the inequity accessing the vaccine could pose for some populations in the province.
“To be honest, a four-year-old's immune system or a four-and-a-half-year olds immune system and physiology is not very different, so I think we should be offering that option to families,” she explained.
“By just immunizing in vaccine clinics we’re going to miss out on a lot of excluded populations that have barriers to getting to the clinics.”
Wing Li, the communication advisor for Support Our Students Alberta, said vaccines should have been rolled out in schools to limit barriers for families who might need to take time off work or may not have a car to get to an appointment.
“It’s problematic,” she said.
“I think waiting and seeing has shown us in the past it’s really just a reactive approach and it hasn’t helped us in the past.”
“Schools are also a good idea because children see their peers getting it and that’s comforting to them,” Ladha added.
Ladha told CTV News Edmonton that she does not agree with kids being excluded from the province’s Restriction’s Exemption Program.
By doing this, she said it could lead to an increase in community transmission and put the population at higher risk of a fifth wave.
“Children can get COVID and they can transmit COVID,” she explained.
“If we’re allowing them unvaccinated into big events like hockey games, restaurants, public indoor spaces… we’re putting at risk a super-spreader event.”
According to Ladha, kids five to 11 had some of the highest rates of infection in the fourth wave and that’s why “they’re in high need of protection too.”
“People don’t apply the rigorous lens to other medications, other vaccines, other products that could cause long term harm,” she continued.
“And if you look at the vaccines we give children now like measles, chicken pox, mumps. I mean, those cause severe illness in a minority of children, not the majority, but we vaccinate against them because it’s a vaccine preventable illness and we don’t want any child to get severely ill from any of those diseases.”
'RETURN TO NORMAL'
Brayall said her kids don’t remember much about what life was like before the pandemic.
“They don’t even know what going to a grocery store is like anymore,” she said.
“My five-year-old really misses going to Safeway and getting the bakery cookie. I think that’ll be a big return to normal for her.”
As a way to hype her girls up and remove fear from the process of rolling up their sleeves, Brayall said she has treated it as something to look forward to.
“They said, 'When are we getting our vaccinations? I want to get happy meals,’” she laughed.
For families who are hesitant, Ladha recommends asking questions from credible sources. This could include a family physician, a pediatrician or scientific experts as anxiety can run high for parents or caregivers when choosing whether or not to vaccinate their kids.
“As parents we want to do what’s best for our child and we really want to know all the information and we don’t want to take any risks.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's top doctor, will be hosting a telephone town hall next Tuesday to answer any questions Albertans might have about vaccines.
For further information or to book an appointment, click here.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Touria Izri
Edmonton Top Stories
DEVELOPING | Body of missing B.C. woman found 5 years later, boyfriend charged with murder: victim's family