COVID-19 vaccine clinics adjusted to reassure kids, parents

(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / casanowe)

Small modifications will be made at community-based COVID-19 vaccination clinics to make them more family-friendly as young children get their shot.

Lambton Public Health opened appointment bookings for children aged five to 11 on Tuesday.

Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade said there were a lot of bookings, with over 1,000 appointments made during the first day. There are approximately 9,200 children in the five to 11 age group in the region.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to bring a book or device for their children when they go for their vaccinations. Ranade said a little more time has also been allotted for clinic appointments involving kids in case parents have questions.

“The immunization pods are a little larger, a little bit more private. We’re offering a few little activities for the kids in that age to keep them engaged and distracted,” said Ranade during a teleconference. “We might have some movies or shows playing for them, just to change the environment a little bit, to make it more welcoming and comfortable for these kids.”

Ranade said the health unit will maintain an open dialogue in case parents have questions or reservations about the vaccine but in terms of consent, instances are dealt with on a case by case basis.

“We generally expect that in the five to 11-year-old population, a custodial parent or guardian will be bringing the child to a clinic and providing informed consent on behalf of that child,” he said. “In the situations where a parent is not consenting and a child would like to get the vaccine, that’s a case by case decision and it’s important to remember that there is no official age of consent for medical procedures in Canada.”

Ranade said there may be 11-year-olds who can “appreciate the consequences of not getting the vaccine”.

“We respect that and we have lots of situations where there are teenagers or youth who can appreciate the consequences of their actions and consent to a procedure or consent to a medication and we go by those same parameters for this.”

So far vaccine appointments for this young age group are on par with results from a recent survey, in terms of distribution methods.

“We wanted to know exactly what [parents] were comfortable with. I think many were comfortable with community clinics so we have community clinics, many were comfortable with school-based clinics and so we’re going to have some school-based clinics,” said Ranade.

Other options also include some primary care offices and pharmacies.

Meantime, Lambton Public Health continues to follow situations and concerns raised in nearby communities. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit had to issue a reassuring message to parents this week after a group planned to sabotage the online booking system.

“We don’t have that concern yet but we’re aware of it,” said Ranade.

Nearly 82 per cent of the 12 plus eligible population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ranade said there may be some minor changes in the reporting system in regards to vaccination rates now that a new age group is eligible for immunizations.