A set of new resources are being distributed province-wide for parents who have not yet decided to get their child vaccinated against COVID-19.
The resources were created with information from BC Children’s Hospital and the BC Centre for Disease Control in response to parents who want more information about the vaccine. Some parents continue to have questions about the risks and benefits of the vaccine, and the impact of COVID-19 in children.
“More than 1.6 million children ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada and millions more have been vaccinated in the U.S. Our data, along with data from several other countries, support that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children,” said Stephanie Meier, senior practice leader of Communicable Diseases and Immunization Service at BCCDC.
“Vaccination remains the best way to prevent your child from experiencing serious illness if they get COVID-19.” - Stephanie Meier
Postcards, brochures, and graphics
created in partnership with the Province of BC include information about the health effects of COVID-19 on children, how vaccines are tested, how they work, as well as talking to your child about vaccine misinformation.
The materials also explain that children are at far greater risk of hospitalization if they get COVID-19, than from any rare side effects of the vaccine.
“Most children who get COVID-19 have mild symptoms but there are still some children who have a serious illness and we can't predict who that's going to be,” said Dr. Manish Sadarangani, head of B.C. Children's Hospital's Vaccine Evaluation Center. “Some children get rare complications that can last weeks or months. Ultimately, these vaccines are extremely safe for children.”
The materials were developed by BCCDC’s Knowledge Translation Team and the Service Design Team at B.C.’s Ministry of Citizen’s Services (MCS) after speaking with parents to hear their questions about the vaccine. For many parents, understanding risk is a crucial factor in their decision-making.
“Parents are often more risk-averse when it comes to making decisions for their children,” said Himani Bhatnagar, BCCDC knowledge translation and exchange specialist. “Our hope is that the brochures will encourage parents who haven’t yet decided about vaccinating their child to talk to a trusted health care professional and take a second look at it.”
Since the vaccine became available for children ages of 5 to 11 in B.C., 43% of eligible children have received two doses of vaccine compared with 86% of eligible children ages 12 to 17 who have received two doses and 36% who have received a third or booster dose.
In developing the materials, Joanne Li and Michelle Chan with the Service Design Team MCS worked closely with parents from a variety of different communities in a collaborative effort to answer their questions. The team's co-creative approach involved remote workshops and in-person sessions where children and families could directly inform and design resources that met their needs.
“We’ve had to navigate a lot of uncertainty during the pandemic and it has been difficult on everyone but we’ve heard even more so on families,” said Michelle Chan, a service designer for Government Digital Experience. “Parents have had to make decisions about their own health and now the health of their children.
"It's a lot of pressure so these materials were designed to help parents access trusted vaccine information and make an informed decision.” - Michelle Chan.
The team behind the materials agreed that maintaining a neutral tone was a priority during the creation of the campaign, as parents requested a more objective presentation of vaccine information that didn’t include heavy messaging and persuasive language. They also made it a point to focus on the science and evidence and use plain language.
“It's our job to give parents the information that they need to make their own decisions about vaccinating their child because we understand it's an important decision and it can feel like a very big decision,” said Lisa Goodman, policy and knowledge translation analyst for the BCCDC Knowledge Translation Team.
The brochures are being distributed through public health units, libraries, childcare centres and faith-based groups across B.C. Digital versions and accompanying social media graphics are available to download from the BCCDC website in 13 languages.