Dr. Maithy Tran answers your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids in Mississauga and Brampton

Published December 22, 2021 at 2:53 pm

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children aged 5 to 11 in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, and naturally, this has raised some questions for parents. Thankfully, Peel Region has the answers you’re looking for.

Dr. Maithy Tran is the Physician Liaison for the Region of Peel Community Mass Vaccination Program. She’s also the Physician Lead for vaccination planning for children aged 5 to 11.

Dr. Maithy Tran.

Dr. Tran has stepped up to answer the top questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children:

Why is it important for children 5 to 11 years old to get the vaccine?

This is a very important question, and several reasons come to mind. The last two years have been especially difficult on our little ones. There have been uncertainties around school, sports, and family events. As of early December, Canada had nearly 130,000 cases of COVID-19 in the 5 to 11 age group. This age group has the highest rate of COVID-19 right now. In Peel, we have had 61 outbreaks in elementary schools, requiring cohorts of children to isolate at home. In comparison, there have been only 5 outbreaks in secondary schools, where more students have received their COVID-19 vaccine.

This is strong evidence that vaccines are working to keep our kids safe.

We have heard concerns from parents about the importance of in-person learning and extra-curricular activities. Vaccines will help to reduce these disruptions and reduce stay-at-home requirements. Although children tend to have more mild symptoms, there is still the risk of severe disease and long-COVID-19 symptoms, which can be hard on a child’s body. Vaccines help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools and in households and helps to keep us safer.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children is approved by Health Canada for use in ages 5 to 11. All vaccines authorized for use in Canada undergo the same rigorous process by Health Canada to confirm that they are safe and effective.

The studies on which the approval was based involved thousands of children in this age group, and these were randomized control trials, which are the standard for assessing safety and efficacy.

The most common side effects are pain in the arm where the vaccine was given, redness, swelling, fatigue, and chills. These are usually mild.

On-going safety surveillance and real-world Canadian and international data continue to demonstrate safety, and they have not reported an increase in severe side effects such as myocarditis and pericarditis. Of course, Health Canada will continue with safety monitoring, as they do with all approved vaccines and medications.

Where can parents get their child vaccinated?

Parents are encouraged to book appointments but our clinics will try to accommodate walk-ins as well. Parents can get their child’s COVID-19 vaccine at Peel Public Health vaccine clinics, school clinics, pop-up clinics including our Vax Van mobile bus, doctor’s offices, or local pharmacies.

We also have teamed up with special dedicated clinics such as ErinoakKids to support vaccinations for children with complex medical conditions, developmental disabilities, anxiety, or any special needs. We want to ensure that every child has the time they need to get the vaccine.

Find a vaccine clinic location near you.

When booking, make sure it has been at least 14 days since receiving another vaccine, such as the flu shot.

What is the vaccine experience like for kids at Peel Public Health clinics?

Peel Public Health has put a lot of effort and thought into creating a welcoming, fun, comforting environment for kids and families by working with our local experts and our Child Life Specialists. We’re offering longer times for little ones just in case they are anxious or have a fear of needles. Our clinics are kid-friendly, and our team has developed a line of vaccine superheroes and their posters are located throughout the clinics.

We also have fun activity sheets and children can take their picture at our superhero selfie-stations before they leave. In our larger clinics, we have a dedicated area reserved for our 5 to 11 kids vaccinations as well.

What’s available to help children with anxiety or needle phobias?

We want to assure parents and families that children are a top priority. All our Peel Public Health clinic staff and immunizers have completed extra training in to prepare for kids 5 to 11 years old. They are familiar with methods to support kids, including distraction techniques, they can show parents how to hold their child to provide comfort during vaccination, and they can use relaxation methods such as guided imagery and belly breathing.

We have built in extra time for our 5- to 11-year-old in case there are questions or to support any anxieties or fears. If your child needs extra assistance, let our staff know, and we’ll work with you to make sure your child has a comfortable experience.

Other options to consider are:

  • Doctor’s offices: If your child will benefit from a quieter or more familiar environment, you can consider one of our primary care providers who do vaccinations in their office.
  • ErinoakKids: If your child may require supports due to complex special needs, we have partnered with ErinoakKids to provide a dedicated clinic for vaccination.
  • School vaccine clinics: If your child feels comfortable in a school environment which is less busy, you can try our school clinics.

Dr. Tran’s extra tips for parents:

  1. Remember to wear a short-sleeved shirt so it is easier for vaccination.
  2. You can also bring toys and games, or whatever you might need to distract your child.
  3. Visit Peel’s website for more information to help you prepare for your child’s appointment.

“As we head into the holiday season, I encourage everyone who is eligible to get their vaccine and remind everyone to keep in mind the local public health guidelines when thinking about holiday gatherings.”

“Finally, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all our residents a safe and happy holiday season.”

Click here to find a location convenient to you, and read more about how to prepare for your appointment here.

For more information and updates, visit Peel Region’s website and social media pages: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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