COVID-19: Vaccination of children under 5 is low in Alberta
Less than 5% of children under 5 have received a first dose.
In Alberta, the COVID-19 vaccine is not very popular for children under the age of 5.
Alberta children under the age of 5 are eligible for the vaccine against COVID-19 for more than a month, but their vaccination is slower than expected.
According to provincial data, 4.6% of children aged 6 months to 4 years received a first dose.
It's a little disappointing, but not surprising, admits pediatrician Sam Wong who is also president of the Alberta Medical Association's Pediatrics Section.
According to Sam Wong , a number of factors may explain this low vaccination rate, including the timing.
Sam Wong works at Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton.
Children under 5 became eligible for vaccination in early August when many families were on vacation or simply weren't thinking about COVID-19.
I wonder if there will be greater demand as school starts, the weather begins to get cooler, and more children and adults get sick. I think it could change the dynamic of the situation, he believes.
Hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine could also contribute to its low popularity among children, the doctor said. In fact, he admits he doesn't get many questions about the vaccine from parents these days.
I get it, it's a numbers thing. People will say the risk is low and they accept that risk. If your child happens to be the one in a thousand who ends up in intensive care, are you ready to take that gamble? I would definitely like my child to be vaccinated, he says.
The risk of serious consequences for young children is low, but not zero, says Craig Jenne, associate professor in the University's Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases of Calgary.
We unfortunately had children hospitalized here in Alberta, even in intensive care, who were part of this age group, he recalls, adding that he wants to see a greater percentage of the population protected with the vaccine.
We really want to use every tool we have to keep these youngest Albertans out of hospital, he says.
Craig Jenne expects COVID-19 cases to increase as the weather gets colder.
We have seen over the past two years that there have been a predictable spike in cases as people return indoors, he notes.
So he, too, is urging parents to get their children vaccinated. In addition to early clinical trials, we've seen a lot of real-world data. We know these vaccines are safe and work, says the professor.
Craig Jenne is particularly concerned about the lack of communication from the province about vaccination for all ages. He would like to see more public awareness campaigns in the coming weeks.
He gave as an example that although an increase in the number of infections had been noted, the percentage of people hospitalized dropped within people vaccinated. It wasn't really reported, he insists.
With information from Jennifer Lee