Vaccination in 5 to 11 year olds important not just for today, but years to come: Pediatrician
Alberta is getting ready to roll out vaccines for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 if they are approved by Health Canada.
Parents can now pre-register their children for the shot if it is eventually approved by the federal regulator.
For months children have had the highest infection rate in the province. While children are at a much lower per capita risk for serious outcomes, a Calgary paediatrician says that's not the whole story.
"Because there's been so many cases, there have been kids who have had severe outcomes (and) ended up in hospital or intensive care units," said Dr. Jim Kellner, paediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children's Hospital. He also sits on the federal COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.
"And there have been children who have ended up with this condition that comes after COVID MIS-C - multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children,” said Kellner.
He cautioned that while kids may not be as efficient of spreaders as adults, that doesn't mean they aren't capable of significant spread altogether.
“Children who are attending school and involved in the community have many more opportunities to transmit," Kellner said. "So even if each time they might be at risk of transmitting the virus is a lower risk, the number of events that, and the number of opportunities to transmit is much higher in children.”
PARENTS EAGER TO HAVE CHILDREN VACCINATED
A recent Angus Reid poll found 46 per cent of Alberta parents are eager to have their 5 to 11 year old children vaccinated against COVID, another 29 per cent said they would not. A further 10 per cent were unsure.
While many in the medical community are hopeful approval of Pfizer's mRNA vaccine could be given before the end of this year, Health Canada still needs to review the data for both safety and efficacy.
“If a higher percentage of children attending school can be vaccinated, that's going to be an important part of helping make things safer going forward, and helping us get back to normal,” said Dr. Kellner, adding vaccination will likely go hand in hand with other measures to limit spread for possibly years to come as the world community works to drive the disease into increasingly isolated pockets.
He said achieving good vaccination rates in children now will not only protect in the short term, but could help in the long term.
"The expectation (is) that some protection will linger from vaccines that could last for years, and that we're likely looking at wanting to protect people from COVID-19 for years.”
Some school boards in Ontario are asking the province to prepare to add COVID-19 shots to the province's list of required vaccinations for school age children.
Alberta does not have any vaccination requirements in schools.