Stickers, Toys and Longer Quotes: Ontario Health Units Plan for Vaccines for Young Children

Stickers, superhero backgrounds and screens are some of the tools Ontario public health units will use at COVID-19 vaccination clinics for infants and preschoolers when vaccines become available next week.

The province announced this week that Moderna’s supply of vaccine for children aged six months to under five would be distributed in the coming days, and appointments could be booked as early as next Thursday.

Public health units said Friday they were still ironing out the finer details for the launch, but had specific plans for children in the works.

In York Region, the public health unit said separate, smaller clinics are being prepared for the younger age group to make families “as comfortable as possible,” with longer appointments, private spaces, accommodation for nursing parents and stroller areas.

Clinics will also have coloring sheets and stickers on hand, some decorated with cartoons reminding children to be “brave … for getting vaccinated,” spokeswoman Jennifer Mitchell wrote in an email.

“Everything will be done to reduce children’s anxiety and fears related to needles,” he said, noting that staff will also be trained in techniques to distract and support young children.

Families are also encouraged to bring comfort items such as blankets, stuffed animals, and tablets.

The Niagara Region Department of Public Health said it would try to make the vaccination experience for young children “as positive as possible” by allowing more time for appointments, giving each child a small toy to keep them distracted during injection and have video tablets available. for them to look at.

“Afterwards, they receive a small gift to take home and are encouraged to pose for photos in a superhero background to emphasize that they have performed a heroic act to help fight this pandemic,” the health unit said.

Niagara’s public health department said it was also collaborating with primary care doctors, as many parents are likely to want their children vaccinated by a doctor who knows them.

“We believe most parents will want to get their children vaccinated with the doctor who already sees their children and knows them well,” the health unit said in an emailed statement.

Peterborough Public Health said its dedicated clinics for children ages six months to five years would give families more time at their appointments to get comfortable and ask questions. The health unit also said barriers would be set up at mass immunization clinics for families who might need privacy.

Huron Perth Public Health said it would be running clinics exclusively for the youngest age group from next Friday and offered some advice for parents ahead of time.

“We encourage parents/caregivers to bring something to help their child relax during the appointment, such as a favorite stuffed animal, toy, or headphones and music,” the health unit said in a news release.

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa said it was finalizing dates and pre-registration details for its clinics that will vaccinate children who are immunocompromised, need more time, have medical complexities, struggle with crowds or other medical factors.

Hospital clinics will be staffed with pediatric experts to help address children’s concerns or needs, hospital spokesman Paddy Moore said.

The hospital emphasized that the vaccines are safe and will help protect infants and young children against COVID-19.

“Vaccinating your child will help keep them out of the hospital, keep them in day care or school and in the activities they love, while helping to protect those around them, including grandparents, parents, siblings and others in their community.” Moore’s statement said.

“We urge all parents and caregivers to fully vaccinate all of their children to protect them from the immediate and long-term effects of a COVID infection.”

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said it would vaccinate children in mass clinics that had previously been tailored for children aged five to 11, and in its mobile clinics and primary care offices.

A spokeswoman for the College of Family Physicians of Ontario said public health units were expected to start receiving vaccine doses next week and supplies would be received by family doctors a week or two after that.

Ontario’s pediatric vaccine rollout is ramping up as the province grapples with a seventh wave of infections driven by the infectious subvariant BA.5 Omicron.

Public Health Ontario’s most recent report on the virus through July 16 indicated that case rates were increasing in almost all public health units, with particularly high case rates in the Northwest.

Case rates also increased across all age groups, according to the report, with the largest increase among those 80 and older, who saw 56 percent from the previous week.

Hospital admissions and outbreaks in high-risk settings also increased, according to the report.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 22, 2022.

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