Tens of thousands of Albertans book COVID-19 vaccines as eligibility expands to 12 and up
ALBERTA -- Thousands of newly eligible Albertans spent time online Monday securing a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, now that anyone 12-years-old and older can book one.
By 4 p.m. Alberta Health Services said nearly 130,000 appointments were booked.
Mom Patricia Truong said she didn’t hesitate to book an appointment for her daughter. Truong and her husband both work in health care.
“We understand the science and we trust science and we just wanted to do the right thing to keep ourselves safe and not just ourselves but everyone else too,” said Truong.
“I’m excited to get the vaccine because it's safer for me and my family and everybody else,” said 12-year-old Maddy.
Last week Health Canada authorized the use of Pfizer for children 12 to 15. Pfizer said its trials in that age group showed 100 per cent efficacy.
Alberta is now among the first jurisdictions in the world giving COVID vaccines to people as young as 12, meaning 3.8 million Albertans are now eligible.
“The benefit of giving the vaccine to this lower age group and really to all age groups first rather than giving the second shot is really a public health benefit,” said Dr. Tehseen Ladha, paediatrician and assistant professor, department of pediatrics, University of Alberta.
“On an individual level we might each have a little bit less protection, but on a population level, the sooner we get larger amounts of the population vaccinated the hope is that will reduce transmission in the community along with other community health measures that are being put in place.”
Paediatricians say children generally don’t suffer serious health problems from COVID, although a few kids in Canada have died from the virus.
But Ladha said new studies are showing children even with mild cases of COVID could become long-haulers.
“If they have mild infection or asymptomatic infection they can develop long COVID with symptoms of fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, headaches, things that are really debilitating and can last for weeks, months and possibly even years, we’re just not sure,” said Ladha.
'GLIMMER OF HOPE'
Ladha said getting 12 to 15-year-olds vaccinated will reduce the likelihood of spread in classrooms, which has been a major concern.
“It’s basically a glimmer of hope towards normalcy for this age group,” she said.
Ladha said it will take weeks, even months to get a large percentage of the population vaccinated (to achieve herd immunity), but added that vaccines are not the ticket out of the pandemic: public health measures still need to be followed.
But for older teens and those in their 20s who are also eligible vaccines are a step closer to a safe and fun summer.
“I’m really excited to get vaccinated I can’t wait. I think a lot of my peers are feeling the same way,” said Sophie Hoye Pacholek. “Even though that won’t be changing any places that I’m going, school is still going to be online, I know that at least I’m somewhat protected.”
The 17-year-old is booked for a shot this week. She said she is hopeful she may be able to attend university in the fall in person.’
“As somebody who wants to come to the scientific field in the future it’s just really amazing that a year ago I couldn’t have imagined this happening and now we’re here.”