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Coronavirus: Pediatricians urge parents to have COVID-19 talk

VANCOUVER — A pediatrician who has studied COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among parents in Canada, the United States and Israel is urging those worried about getting their kids vaccinated to speak up. Talk to your healthcare provider because the Omicron variant pushes up cases all the time. high level.

Dr Ran Goldman, professor of paediatrics at the University of British Columbia, said current national immunization rates for children aged 5 to 11 are too low, so parents have questions about safety. of vaccines should ask them to answer. personal connection with your pediatrician, family doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

“If those health care providers listen first and understand what is the basis for the hesitation and exactly what questions parents have, they can address this with their knowledge.” This is the key and the miracle, the green card, for Goldman, who practices in Vancouver, said.

Goldman says previous campaigns involving vaccines for children have shown that conversations with health care providers are meaningful and have helped change hesitant minds. parents.

Data from Health Canada shows that 39% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was approved by the agency for that age group last November.

“It’s still not enough,” Goldman said. “I know we’re failing our children in immunization rates. It’s not just about the kids getting vaccinated, it’s about protecting everyone in their surroundings, including their fathers. their mothers, grandparents, sick or well, who need to go to work.”

British Columbia matches a national vaccination rate of 39%, as does New Brunswick, while the lowest rates are in Alberta and the Yukon, at 37%, according to government data in those jurisdictions.

In Ontario, nearly 45% of children under 11 years of age received their first dose while the highest vaccination rate, 67%, was in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Adrian Dix, health minister in BC, encourages more parents to get their children vaccinated.

“It will make the kids safe and of course, your family safer too,” he said.

Goldman said parents should be aware that the consequences of an infection far outweigh any possible side effects.

He is the lead author of a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last October on parents’ willingness to vaccinate their children against the virus. COVID-19.

The study involved a survey pair with a total of 2,800 parents in 12 emergency departments in the United States, Israel, and Canada. Most of the parents, 54%, are from Canada and surveyed in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary.

The first survey conducted during the peak of the pandemic from March to May 2020, found that nearly 65% ​​of parents said they would get their children under 12 vaccinated.

Those results were compared with a second survey from December 2020 to March 2021, after the vaccine for adults was approved.

However, less than 60% of parents said they were ready to have their children vaccinated.

“We were surprised,” Goldman said, adding that some parents believe that getting vaccinated on their own is fine, but too risky for their children.

“We need to work with parents to understand specifically the importance and safety of vaccines for children,” he said.

Michelle McGrath of Langley, BC, said she enrolled her five-year-old son Isaiah for the vaccine shortly after it was approved for use in children.

“This is the most researched part of medicine and has the strictest standards for safety,” she said.

“For those of you who are saying we don’t know the long-term impact of the vaccine, we also don’t know the long-term impact of contracting this virus,” she said.

McGrath said she is also worried about the effect COVID-19 could have on her vulnerable 11-month-old twin boys, who were born 3 months premature and had to be taken to medical appointments frequently, where they may be exposed to the virus.

Goldman says about 90% of children will not become infected after they receive the vaccine, which uses one-third of the dose formulated for older children and adults.

“Being sick and possibly having COVID for a long time is more of a risk than any kind of hypothetical, potential side effect.”

Parents who believe vaccines have been developed too quickly should know that mRNA vaccine technology has been around for nearly 20 years, he said.

“We know this technology works and is actually safer than many other vaccine technologies. The flu vaccine is safe for about 50% of people and the COVID vaccine is effective in about 90% of people. “

This Canadian Press report was first published on January 7, 2022.

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