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Charla Huber: With a vaccine and a treat bag, Island Health goes the extra mile for kids

Charla Huber's daughter was fourth in line on the first day of vaccines for younger kids, vibrating with excitement, the same way a kid might be while waiting for a roller-coaster or an ice-cream sundae.
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Charla Huber's daughter, Soleil, 11, was fourth in line in Langford to receive her COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, when shots began rolling out for five- to 11-year-olds. CHARLA HUBER

On Monday, COVID-19 ­vaccines were rolled out for ­five- to 11-year-olds across B.C. My daughter is 11 and because she doesn’t turn 12 until 2022, she had been unable to get her ­vaccine until this week.

She made me promise that I would get her the first ­available appointment, even if it meant I had to cancel a work meeting.

On Monday morning, I dropped my daughter at school and within about 10 minutes, I received a text saying we could book an appointment.

The text came in at 9:03 a.m., I had the appointment booked by 9:06 a.m., and then I headed to her school to pick her up, because the appointment I secured was for 9:40 a.m.

She was fourth in line on the first day of vaccines. She was vibrating with excitement, the same way a kid might be while waiting for a roller-coaster or to be handed an ice-cream ­sundae after watching it being made.

As a parent, I felt getting my kid a vaccine was ­essential.

I have been telling my ­daughter her entire life that it’s my job to keep her safe.

When she was in daycare, her teachers made a fun card for Mother’s Day where they asked the toddlers questions about their moms and then wrote down exactly what they said.

They asked questions like “What is your mom’s name?” “How old is she?” and “What is her job?”

The idea was the kids would give silly answers and ­everyone would have a little laugh.

When I opened my card and read the line “My mom’s job is …,” the penned-in reply was: “keep me safe.” I paid my rent by being a newspaper reporter, but her answer let me know she was listening to me. I loved it.

My daughter’s vaccination was a rite of passage for her, and a sigh of relief for both of us.

We didn’t expect anything fancy during the visit, but we were blown away by Island Health’s top-notch efforts in ­serving this younger ­demographic.

Each child was given a treat bag upon entry, the ­registration staff had a silly dinosaur joke written on a white board, and staff were extra friendly with the little ones checking in.

After the poke, there was an assortment of fun bandages to choose from: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and ­Avengers. There were also plain Band-Aids for those too cool for ­cartoons. My daughter wasn’t too cool — she sported a Mickey Mouse bandage all day.

Inside the treat bag were little trinkets to keep kids ­occupied for the ­15-minute ­waiting period after the ­injection.

Staff even hosted a little ­colouring activity with the kids in the waiting area, and made sure my daughter received an extra “Vax Champ” sticker to show off on her helmet.

During our time in the clinic, we didn’t see any tears from any of the kids, even the little ones.

If you are worried getting a vaccine might be scary for your children, I hope this story helps you. I raise my hands to Island Health for the top-notch children’s ­vaccine clinics, and for helping me continue to make choices to keep my daughter safe.