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What parents need to know about getting young kids vaccinated


With Health Canada approving the first COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged six months to five-year-old last week, it is likely that parents have many questions.

Pediatrician Dr. Jared Bullard said he’s hearing two common questions right now, including when the vaccine will be available for young children.

“I think the parents in Manitoba for children who are under five have been anxiously awaiting these vaccines for a long time,” he said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Monday.

Bullard said the second question he’s getting frequently is whether kids who’ve already had COVID-19 need to get vaccinated, which he says they should.

“I encourage them to do that, because we know that when you get the vaccine in addition to having had the infection, your immunity is actually that much stronger and longer lasting,” he said.

Bullard said beginning at the end of last year, more kids were coming to the hospital with common COVID-19 symptoms.

“I think with more children in this age group coming in, it’s important to get this vaccine because the vaccine can actually reduce the likelihood of them having symptoms like cough, and not feeling very well, prompting them to come into hospital,” he said.

As for parents worried about risks and side effects, studies so far say the most likely thing your child will experience is soreness in the area they get the vaccine.

“In addition, fevers after the vaccine, (for) a couple of days, not unusual,” Bullard added.

The pediatrician noted that long-term data from those aged five and older show there aren’t many side effects of particular concern, except for a few cases of myocarditis in young adults.

Bullard suggests talking to a health-care professional to get all the information you need on pediatric vaccines, and ensuring your child is up to date on routine vaccines.


Once a parent has made the decision whether to vaccinate their child, the next step is guiding the kid through the experience.

Therapist Carolyn Klassen said it is completely normal for kids to fear needles.

“About 60 per cent of kids are quite frightened of needles and a quarter of adults feel that as well,” she said.

Klassen explained that pain is interpreted not only as something that happens to your body, but also how you psychologically perceive and understand it, which is why it’s wise for parents to be direct and build trust.

She added children will pick up on their parents’ confidence, which will ease some of their fears.

“So if you could just explain, ‘You’re going to get a poke. It’s going to keep you healthy. Yes, we remember from the last time you got one that it hurt, but remember it’s over pretty quick,’” she said.

Klassen added that some kids will benefit from an anesthetic patch or cream, noting that studies show that nursing during the injection will reduce pain for kids who are still breastfeeding.

“Really preparing your child in light of who they are. Make sure you tell them in advance, but not too soon that they have too long to worry about it,” she said.

Klassen also suggests talking to your kids about what will make them feel better, and trying to distract them during the injection.

“Bring out your smartphone and look at a video, a song, something they would love to watch and that can help them focus on something different than what’s actually happening when the vaccine occurs.”

- With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube. Top Stories

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