Thousands of children in Alberta go one step further to be protected from COVID-19.
As of Friday, Alberta Health Services said there were 62,739 pediatric appointments booked in the province.
Friday is also the first day to distribute vaccines to children. Alberta Health says 6,286 children have been registered for the injection.
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In Edmonton, 10-year-old Alexander said he was delighted to receive his first dose of the vaccine.
“It means I’m a lot safer from COVID and I can have a lot more fun now,” he said with a laugh. “I’m playing on my dad’s phone [when I got the shot]… So my technique is to distract myself from thinking about the needle.
Five-year-old Freya has a special gift to celebrate this day.
“[My mom said] that it’s important that you capture it. That’s why she gave us presents,” said Freya, holding her gift.
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Freya’s father Trevor Sieben said his family will continue to be cautious until his child is fully vaccinated.
“We can start to feel more comfortable going out. Still wearing a mask and taking precautions until we know things will be handled a little more gently,” he said. “But we can move a little easier through the world.”
According to medical professionals, children should wait 8 weeks between doses.
“We have been waiting for this for quite some time. I am grateful to everyone who helped us get to this place. Our kids can feel more normal,” says Sieben. “It was a sigh of relief. Eight weeks from Friday, we’ll be back.”
Pfizer clinical trial data shows the vaccine is 91% effective against COVID-19 in children 5-11 years of age. Of the 3,100 children immunized as part of the trials, there were no reports of myocarditis, pericarditis, or serious allergic reactions.
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Seven-year-old Maya said the injections mean she’s on her way to having “more fun” and hanging out with friends – even if it means having to get needles.
Maya explains: “I don’t really like the snaps because they’re a bit bunched up and I don’t like the pinch.
“The nurses were great with the kids, making them feel more comfortable,” said Maya’s mother, Amy Chae. “It was great.”
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Fatima Tokhmafshan is a researcher in child health and human development at the McGill University Medical Center Research Institute. She works as the director of outreach and patient engagement at the Variant Coronavirus Rapid Response Network.
“It’s normal to worry about any medical intervention,” Tokhmafshan said. “Health is a very personal thing.”
When taking your child for injections, mom recommends dividing the day into three phases.
Phase one is before vaccination. Make sure to discuss it first, but not too soon, to avoid worrying and remind them why it’s important.
“It’s very, very important that we do what we can, we use all the tools we have at our disposal to limit transmission,” she said.
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The second stage is in the vaccination process. Parents should stay calm and plan ahead by providing distractions for their children.
Stage three is post-vaccination. Try and plan a special party or celebration. This way, the child will have a different focus during the day.
Tokhmafshan said: “Acknowledge their pain and congratulate them on their bravery for bravely going through and over it. “Remind them of heroism in action. Vaccination is not only protecting you, you are also protecting the people around you.”
At Expo Park in Lethbridge, there is always a large crowd of eager parents and children. Alberta Health told Global News that as of 7:50 a.m. Friday, there were 396 pediatric vaccine appointments booked for the day in Lethbridge.
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Tabatha Beggs is emotional as she talks about her two daughters, aged seven and nine, getting their shots.
“I feel relieved,” she said with a laugh. “It’s still a long time coming. I will probably go home and cry, but we look forward to getting back to normal life.”
Isabella Beggs, 9, said she was worried, but didn’t know why. Once inside, she was fine and ready to rush in.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she said. “It’s very quick and easy.”
“It’s just like a little pinch then it’s done,” her seven-year-old sister, Savi, added.
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Mother-of-four Janelle Harris said she almost started crying as each child rolled up their sleeves and did their part. She has been teaching her children at home since the pandemic began to limit their contact with others.
“I am so grateful for the nurses and the work they are doing,” she said. “We were on the computer at 7:30 a.m. the day it was available because we’ve been waiting for this day for so long.”
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