BC urges parents of infants and toddlers to get vaccinated against COVID after Health Canada approval

Pediatric expert says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks. The province hopes to start immunizing children aged six months to four years on August 2 and says parents can register their children now.


Infants up to six months and toddlers and preschool children up to five years old in BC will soon be offered a COVID-19 vaccine after Health Canada approved the vaccine for that age group.

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“It’s definitely a good idea to vaccinate infants or preschoolers,” said assistant professor Devon Greyson of UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. “If my children were that age, I would vaccinate them as soon as possible.”

Although illness in the young “tends to be less severe” than in the elderly, for example, it’s important to protect young people against persistent symptoms known as prolonged COVID, “although these are rare,” Greyson said.

The effects of receiving the injection are similar to those of other vaccines, including irritability, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and pain and rash at the injection site.

In rare cases, the COVID vaccine can cause myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, but symptoms are almost always mild and go away after a few days, according to the US National Institutes of Health.

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The chance of getting myocarditis from the COVID vaccine is two per 100,000, compared to the chance of getting myocarditis after being hospitalized for COVID-19 at 226 per 100,000, the NIH website said.

The benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of the vaccine, he said.

“Men and boys between the ages of 16 and 29 years have been most commonly affected by COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis, usually within days of their second dose,” according to the NIH. “The myocarditis may be due to their strong immune response to the vaccine.”

“Canadians can be pretty sure” there are no widespread adverse health effects for people in that age group because the US approved the shots for six months or more about a month ago, and have since immunized about 300,000 infants and preschool children.

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“The evidence so far looks very good,” the NIH said.

The province said parents of the 208,000 eligible infants and children in BC between six months and four years old can start registering their children now, and the first to be immunized with the Moderna mRNA vaccine starting August 2, the Thursday the Minister of Health, Adrian Dix.

“The COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six months to four years will be made available in all communities through health authority children’s clinics,” the province said in a press release.

Greyson encouraged parents to register their children for the first possible injection so they have immunity before they return to school or day care.

The National Immunization Advisory Committee suggests waiting two weeks before or after other vaccines, not for health reasons, but to determine any symptoms.

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It is BC policy not to require children to be vaccinated before they go to school, although parents are asked to report their children’s immunization status. The same rule is likely to apply to the COVID vaccine.

After registering through the BC vaccination page, parents will be invited in August to reserve a time for a vaccination at a clinic. It is a two-dose series, given eight weeks apart.

Younger children will receive a quarter of the dose that an adult receives.

Meanwhile, provincial health officials released weekly COVID numbers on Thursday. There were 426 people in hospital with COVID as of Thursday, 34 of whom were in intensive care. The total surpassed the 369 of the previous week and the 273 of the last Thursday of June.

It is the first time since May that the number of hospitalizations has exceeded 400. The number of hospitalizations in 2022 peaked at 985 in early February.

Also in the week ending Thursday, 22 people died from COVID, bringing the total deaths from the pandemic in BC to 3,823.

The province reported 973 new cases in the week ending July 9.

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