When Health Canada approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12, Stephanie Meier knew she would be booking appointments for her daughters before the holidays.
“They were always worried about inadvertently bringing the virus to their grandparents and we really want to spend family time together over the holidays and in the coming year,” said Stephanie, the senior practice leader with BCCDC’s Communicable Diseases and Immunization Service.
Last week, Brooklyn, age 11, and Mikaela, age 8, got their vaccines at a clinic in Fraser Health. They are among the more than 73,000 children in the 5 to 11 age group who have now been vaccinated.
“They felt a lot safer being vaccinated and so do I,” said Stephanie. “My mom is babysitting over the holidays and I feel so much more comfortable knowing they have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.”
Stephanie is a nurse and part of a team that has trained more than 50,000 immunizers across the province to administer COVID19 vaccines, including to children.
When it comes to preparing children for the vaccine appointment, she says it’s important that children know about the vaccine close to the day of the appointment and are encouraged to ask questions.
“Help your child understand why they are getting vaccinated,” she said. “It can also be helpful to share your own immunization experience with them.”
Parents can explain what to expect: they may feel a pinch or poke but it will be over very quickly. Afterward, their arm may feel heavy or sore but that will go away.
“Help them plan how they are going to get through the experience and how they are going to feel comfortable,” she said, adding that having items around to help distract and relax your child can be helpful.
For Stephanie’s daughters that involved reading a book and listening to music on a smartphone.
“I didn’t really feel it and doesn’t really hurt,” said Brooklyn. “I can spend Christmas with my family this year.”