Less than half of children under 12 in British Columbia have had their first vaccine

Some communities, especially in the north and rural interior, lag far behind the provincial average

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Vaccination rates for children under 12 are as low as 16% in some BC communities, despite authorities’ efforts to get as many shots into the guns as possible.

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The latest available figures show that 44% of the province’s 349,000 children aged 5 to 11 have received a first dose, while another 35,000 have registered to be vaccinated.

But the percentage of children who have received their first dose of the vaccine varies widely – from less than 20% in parts of the north and interior to over 80% in parts of the south-west coast and Vancouver Island.

According to doctors and other professionals, safety and testing issues are among the most common issues raised by parents considering having their children vaccinated.

“Patients I’ve spoken to and parents I’ve spoken to have questions about safety and they have questions about how vaccines are approved,” said Dr. Leigh Hunsinger-Chang, physician at family in Prince George. “Parents want to do the best they can for their children. … That’s basically it.

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Childhood vaccination rates in some northern communities are among the lowest in British Columbia, according to the most recent data from the BC Center for Disease Control. Several areas in the northeast of the province are also lagging behind in overall vaccinations.

In an interview about the relatively slow uptake of the vaccine during last year’s initial rollout, Dr. Jong Kim, Northern Health’s chief medical officer, highlighted the logistical challenges facing authorities in the North, where small communities are often separated by great distances and often have limited health facilities.

Several communities in the interior of British Columbia also have relatively low vaccination rates for children under 12, especially in remote or rural communities outside of city centers like Kamloops and Kelowna.

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BC Health Minister Adrian Dix has encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated. Join the fight,” he said Friday.

Chantal Cattermole, a lawyer and partner at Clark Wilson who works with divorced co-parenting couples, said most of the concerns she sees raised by parents are ‘based on fear of the unknown and the safety of children’, noting that parents were concerned about the long and short term effects of the vaccine on their children as well as whether there were enough tests.

“It seems that the fear is greatly increased the younger the child is,” Cattermole said.

In the Lower Mainland, vaccination rates have lagged in a handful of North Surrey wards that authorities struggled to reach last year when the vaccine was initially rolled out.

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In an effort to increase vaccinations, Fraser Health has increased the number of vaccination clinics in the region to 16.

“We recognize the concerns that many parents are feeling at this time. And although children are at lower risk of serious illness from COVID-19, the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be effective in protecting children from serious illness, hospitalization or long-term effects,” said said a Fraser Health official. email response to questions.

The vaccine for children under 12 is essentially the same vaccine used for adolescents and adults, but with a lower dose. Indeed, healthy children have strong immune systems compared to young people and adults, according to Health Canada.

Hunsinger-Chang said the rapidly changing information has been challenging for parents, who seek to do the best for their children with the information they have.

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“There is so much information and things change so quickly,” she said.

“Where are you at with the vaccination? Where are you at with your children getting vaccinated? she said she tells her patients about it. “I’m here if you have any questions.”

Hunsinger-Chang said sometimes patients initially say they have no questions about vaccinating their children. “Then a week or two later I get a phone call and they want to talk about it.”

She said she encouraged people to view vaccinations as an opportunity rather than something to fear.

“We all have the opportunity to help end the pandemic,” she said, “and this is one of the ways to do it.”

“It’s actually something where you can feel like you’re doing something to end the pandemic.”

ngriffiths@postmedia.com

twitter.com/njgriffiths



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