Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Island Health medical health officer Dr. Mike Benusic were on hand to witness one of the first COVID-19 pediatric vaccinations of a child between six months and four years old as the province expanded its COVID-19 immunization program to the youngest cohort on Tuesday.
The pair were at the Quadra Village Community Centre’s child-friendly vaccination clinic, where children are supplied with distractions, such as colouring sheets, puzzles, stickers, and a private room to help reduce some of the stress and anxiety around getting a shot.
Under the glare of media cameras Eli Litke, three-and-a-half-years-old, sat on his mother’s lap and got his first 25-microgram dose of the Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccine.
“I am pretty excited on Eli getting his shot, as we have a background of asthma in the family,” said Danielle Litke, Eli’s mother.
The 25-microgram pediatric dose, a quarter of the volume of an adult dose, gives children a similar level of protection against serious illness. Like the adult vaccine, a second dose is recommended eight weeks after the first.
“I am excited and relieved that we now have a vaccine for children in this age group,” said Henry. “It’s an opportunity to give them the protection they need. It’s incredibly important to now start to think about getting registered to get the vaccine at clinics across the province. The vaccine has been extensively tested and is safe. I encourage parents and guardians to talk to their doctors, nurses and other health care professionals about the vaccine.”
There are approximately 200,000 children in the six months to four years old age group in B.C. who are eligible for the vaccine.
As of July 25, close to 2,200 requests had already been received by Island Health.
The vaccines are free and children do not need a B.C. care card to obtain a vaccine. The vaccine will be available primarily by appointment at special clinics but may be available at some walk-in clinics. It will not be available at pharmacies.
Young children who are moderately to severely immunocompromised can get their second dose four to eight weeks after the first and receive an invitation for a third dose four weeks after their second.
Parents and guardians can register their child for a shot in the provincial Get Vaccinated system (online at getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca) — the same system used for adults. Once registered, parents and guardians will receive an invitation to book an appointment via text, email or by phone.
Children who have had COVID-19 can receive a vaccine eight weeks after their symptoms began, or when they first tested positive for the virus.
Henry suggests that registering a child for the COVID-19 vaccine is a good time for parents to ensure their child is up-to-date with other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.
For more information, go to to www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/young-children. Or phone 1-833-838-2323. Phone support is available in about 140 languages.