Thousands of children in Alberta are one big step closer to being protected from COVID-19.
As of Friday, Alberta Health said 62,739 pediatric appointments had been booked in the province.
Friday was also the first day of distribution of vaccines for children. Alberta Health said 6,286 children were registered for the vaccine.
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In Edmonton, 10-year-old Alexander said he was excited to get his first dose of the vaccine.
“It means that I am much safer from COVID and I can have more fun now,” he said smiling. “I was playing with my dad’s phone [when I got the shot]… So distraction was my technique for not thinking about the needle.
Five-year-old Freya received a special gift to mark the day.
“[My mom said] that it is important to receive the vaccine, which it is. That’s why he gave us a gift, ”Freya said, holding up her gift.
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Freya’s father, Trevor Sieben, said his family will remain cautious until their children are fully vaccinated.
“We can start to feel more comfortable going out. Still masked and taking precautions until we know things are a bit more run, ”he said. “But we can move around the world a little easier.”
Children are recommended to wait eight weeks between doses, according to health experts.
“We have been waiting for this for quite some time. I am thankful for everyone who helped us get to this place. Our children can feel more normal, ”Sieben said. “It’s a big sigh of relief. In eight weeks from Friday, we will be back here. “
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Data from the Pfizer clinical trial showed the vaccine was 91 percent effective against COVID-19 in children ages 5 to 11. Of the 3,100 children vaccinated as part of the trials, there were no reports of myocarditis, pericarditis, or serious allergic reactions.
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Seven-year-old Maya said getting her injection means she’s on her way to “more fun” and hanging out with her friends, even if it means getting a needle.
“I really don’t like the shots, because they pinch a little bit and I don’t like the pinches,” Maya explained.
“The nurses were great with the kids, making them feel more comfortable,” said Maya’s mom, Amy Chae. “It was incredible”.
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Fatima Tokhmafshan is a child health and human development researcher at the McGill University Health Center Research Institute. She works as the director of community and patient engagement and outreach in the Rapid Response Network for Coronavirus Variants.
“It is very normal to be anxious about any medical intervention,” Tokhmafshan said. “Health is something very personal.”
When you take your child for vaccinations, she recommends dividing the day into three phases.
Phase one is pre-vaccination. Make sure to discuss it beforehand, but not too soon to avoid too much anxiety and remind them why it is important.
“It’s very, very important that we do what we can, use all the tools we have available to slow down transmission,” he said.
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The second phase is during vaccination. Parents should stay calm and plan ahead by bringing a distraction for their children.
Phase three is post-vaccination. Try planning a celebration or special gift. In this way, the child will have a different focus during the day.
“Acknowledge their pain and congratulate them on their bravery for being so brave and moving forward,” Tokhmafshan said. Remind them of the heroism of the act. Getting vaccinated just doesn’t protect you, it also protects the people around you. “
At Exhibition Park in Lethbridge, there was a constant stream of anxious parents and children. Alberta Health told Global News that as of 7:50 a.m. Friday, there were 396 pediatric vaccination appointments booked for the day in Lethbridge.
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Tabatha Beggs was excited to talk about her two daughters, ages seven and nine, who got vaccinated.
“I’m relieved,” she laughed. “It’s been a long time. I’ll probably go home and cry, but we can’t wait to get back to normal life.”
Nine-year-old Isabella Beggs said she was nervous, but didn’t quite know why. Once inside, she was fine and ready to take the hit.
“It doesn’t hurt,” he said. “It is very fast and easy.”
“It’s like a little pinch, then it’s done,” added her seven-year-old sister Savi.
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Janelle Harris, a mother of four, said she almost began to cry as each child rolled up their sleeves to do their part. She has been homeschooling her children since the beginning of the pandemic to limit her contact with others.
“I am very grateful for the nurses and the work they are doing,” she said. “We were on the computer at 7:30 in the morning the day it was available because we’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”
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