Thousands of kids in Alberta are one big step closer to being protected from COVID-19.
As of Friday, Alberta Health said there have been 62,739 pediatric appointments booked in the province.
Friday was also the first day of vaccine distribution for kids. Alberta Health said 6,301 kids were booked to got the shot.
In Edmonton, 10-year-old Alexander said he was excited to get his first dose of the vaccine.
“It means I am a lot safer from COVID and I can have more fun now,” he said, smiling. “I was playing on my dad’s phone [when I got the shot]…so distraction was my technique to not think about the needle.
Five-year-old Freya got a special gift to commemorate the day.
“[My mom said] that it’s important to get your shot, which it is. That’s why she gave us a present,” said Freya said, holding up her gift.
Freya’s dad, Trevor Sieben said his family will continue to be cautious until his children are fully vaccinated.
“We can start to feel more comfortable going out. Still masked and taking precautions until we know things are a little bit more handled,” he said. “But we can move a little more easily through the world.”
It’s recommended that kids wait eight weeks between doses, according to health experts.
“We’ve been waiting for this for quite a while. I’m grateful for everyone who helped us get to this place. Our kids can feel more normal,” Sieben said. “It’s a super big sigh of relief. Eight weeks from Friday, we will be back here.”
Pfizer’s clinical trial data showed the vaccine had a 91 per cent efficacy against COVID-19 in children aged 5-11. Of the 3,100 children vaccinated as part of the trials, there were no reports of myocarditis, pericarditis or serious allergic reaction.
Seven-year-old Maya said getting her shot means she is on the way to “more fun” and hangouts with her friends — even if it means having to get a needle.
“I don’t really like shots, because they pinch a little and I don’t like pinches,” Maya explained.
“The nurses were great with the kids, making them feel more comfortable,” said Maya’s mom, Amy Chae. “It was awesome.”
Fatima Tokhmafshan is a child health and human development researcher at the Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre. She works as the community and patient engagement and outreach director at the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network.
“It’s very normal to be anxious about any medical intervention,” said Tokhmafshan. “Health is a very, sort of personal thing.”
When bringing your child to get vaccinated, she recommends breaking up the day into three phases.
Phase one is the pre-vaccination. Make sure to discuss it beforehand, but not too early to avoid too much anxiety, and remind them why it’s important.
“It’s very, very important that we do what we can, we use all the tools that we have available to us to curb the transmission,” she said.
Phase two is during the vaccination. Parents should remain calm and plan ahead by bringing a distraction for their kids.
Phase three is post-vaccination. Try and plan a special treat or celebration. This way the child will have a different focus for the day.
“Acknowledge their pain and congratulate them on their bravery for being so brave and going through with it,” said Tokhmafshan. “Remind them of the heroism in the act. Getting vaccinated is just not protecting you, you’re also protecting people around you.”
Over at Exhibition Park in Lethbridge, there was a steady stream of eager parents and kids. Alberta Health told Global News, as of 7:50 a.m. on Friday, there were 396 pediatric vaccine appointments booked for the day in Lethbridge.
Tabatha Beggs got emotional talking about her two daughters, who are seven and nine, getting vaccinated.
“I’m relieved,” she said with a laugh. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ll probably go home and cry, but we’re looking forward to getting back to normal life.”
Nine-year-old Isabella Beggs said she was nervous, but didn’t quite know why. Once inside she was alright and ready to get the jab.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she said. “It’s very quick and easy.”
“It’s just like a little pinch then it’s done,” her seven-year-old sister Savi, added.
Mother of four Janelle Harris said she almost started crying as each kid rolled up their sleeve to do their part. She’s been homeschooling her kids since the start of the pandemic to limit their contact with others.
“I’m so grateful for the nurses and the work that they’re doing,” she said. “We were on the computer at 7:30 in the morning the day that it was available because we’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”
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