It’s anticipated the first shipments of Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Alberta in the coming weeks, according to Blue Cross.
“Alberta Health Services public health clinics will be the primary providers of COVID-19 vaccine to children ages five to 11 years,” a post on the Blue Cross website reads.
“In some areas where AHS clinics are not easily accessible, a limited number of community pharmacies may be asked .”
That means most Albertan children will not be able to receive the vaccine at a pharmacy.
The reasoning, according to the Blue Cross post, is that Canada is one of the first jurisdictions to approve the use of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine and there is a “critical need for the most accurate monitoring and administration data to be available at all times.”
That type of tracking is not always done at pharmacies. As such, only pharmacies using and maintaining certain records will be asked to administer vaccine, if needed.
Qualified pharmacies will be contacted directly to see if there is interest.
Dr. Tehseen Ladha is an Edmonton pediatrician.
She said the upcoming approval is “really, really good news,” not just for parents and kids — but also for the community.
“Getting those transmission rates down in the 5 to 11 age group will help bring this pandemic, hopefully, eventually, to an end,” Ladha said.
Education and awareness will be key to the pediatric rollout, she added. Ladha is hoping Alberta Health will focus on providing parents with the information they need.
“There needs to be educational resources, awareness campaigns and targets on misinformation.
“COVID-19 is not just like the flu. I have seen children with COVID, children with the severe outcomes of COVID.”
Kathleen Wolff said her nine year old has been asking nearly every day about when she is going to be able to get vaccinated.
“We are really excited,” Wolff said. “My youngest is the only one in the house not vaccinated, she feels left out. She doesn’t want to get sick and knows it’s important. She’s ready.”
Wolff said she hopes Alberta Health has a clear campaign directed at parents.
“Encouraging parents to vaccinate… I know it’s the group that I’m hearing from that they aren’t sure about vaccinating the young kids. Getting the right information out there,” she said.
“This might be what finishes things up for us and we don’t enter a fifth wave ideally.”
Grandparent Gordon Riley said he still has questions about the pediatric vaccine.
“If it’s safe, it’s a good idea. I have nothing against it,” he said. “My grandson, I don’t want him to get sick over it.”
Pfizer’s clinical trial data showed the vaccine had a 91 per cent efficacy against COVID-19 in children aged 5-11. Of the 3,100 children vaccinated as part of the trials, there were no reports of myocarditis, pericarditis or serious allergic reaction.
“If there are concerns, reach out to your family doctor,” Ladha said. “Find strong sources of information, not social media.”
Premier Jason Kenney was asked about the approval and Alberta’s plan for the vaccine rollout at an unrelated news conference Thursday morning.
“COVID-19 poses an extremely small risk to young children for severe outcomes,” Kenney said. “The science is clear that the seasonal flu generally poses a greater risk for outcomes for younger children than does COVID-19.”
Kenney said he awaits the decision of Health Canada for the approval — and was encouraged that Health Canada was “not rushing the process.”
Ladha said his comments push a dangerous narrative that could make parents more vaccine hesitant.
“Influenza does not create a long-term medical complication that long COVID can. Influenza is not as transmissible as COVID,” Ladha said.
“At this stage in the pandemic, that’s a very irresponsible comment to make. We also know an influenza vaccine exists… so now a COVID vaccine exists.”
Edmonton Public Schools told Global News AHS has not indicated whether it will use schools as a place of access for the vaccine for the 5-11 age group. Edmonton Catholic said as of Thursday, it had not been approached by AHS or Alberta Health regarding immunization clinics.
Alberta Health has not yet responded to requests for comment.
– With files from Kirby Bourne/630 CHED
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