Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccinations

Dec 8, 2021

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist & Vaccinator at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine appointments are now available at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy. You can book an appointment by calling 204-638-4602.

Most parents in Manitoba and Canada are choosing to get their children vaccinated. The choice is up to the parents and that is respected. As parents you make the end decision on what you believe is right for your children. As health care professionals, we must look at the data available and the science to help parents make informed decisions. We are not always going to please everyone and believe me; it is not always easy. However, nothing related to COVID-19 has been and we just must keep going forward. Please just ensure you are looking at trustful information and be extremely cautious of social media posts.

Here is some information and suggestions to help with the process. Over 30 000 children aged 5 to 11 have already been vaccinated in Manitoba. In the USA, as of December 7, over five million in this age group have already been vaccinated with a first dose. While COVID-19 risk remains low in children, the risk of moderate to severe complications due to COVID-19 is there, and appears to be increasing with variants. Also, the risk for long COVID-19 symptoms, or symptoms which persist past infection, are also on the rise.

Many parents also realize their child is in contact with someone at risk of COVID-19 complications, whether it be a friend, parent, or grandparent. Not every child has been given the pleasure of a strong immune system due to health complications or medications they must take for a chronic disease. Most of us feel compelled to do whatever possible to help them out. While vaccination does not stop the spread completely, the data clearly shows it effectively decreases the risk of spread. We are now learning children are significant spreaders of COVID-19, often while being asymptomatic. There is also no doubt it reduces the severity of the virus.

The dose of the pediatric vaccine is 1/3 of the dose a 12-year-old or adult receives. This reduces the risk of side effects, which by the way are extremely rare. They are much rarer than effects from a natural COVID-19 infection. Currently the second dose is also recommended to be eight weeks from the first. In adults this extended time between doses reduces the risk of side effects further and may increase effectiveness of the vaccine. Myocarditis or an inflammatory heart condition has shown up in a small number of teenagers. While it is very treatable and only temporary this has been a concern of many parents. The good news is it has not yet been reported in the pediatric population. The risk of myocarditis from COVID-19 infection is much greater.

If you have made the decision to vaccinate your child, tell them about it and talk to them about it. Admit it may hurt a little, as telling them it does not hurt at all is not the truth and they will not believe you going forward. Tell them about your experiences. Explain the purpose of a vaccine. Most kids know COVID-19 are germs that get into your body, reproduce, and make you sick. A vaccine paints a picture of the germs so the body can build its army of cells to fight off the virus. These special army cells act like guards, so if COVID-19 shows up, they recognize its an enemy, and it fights them off.

Aside from communicating about the upcoming appointment with your child there are other things you can do make the appointment go well. A numbing cream sold at the DCP, over the counter appears to work well to reduce injection pain. Zensa cream or topical lidocaine 5% sells for $6.99. Apply it to the shoulder 15 to 30 minutes before the appointment and cover with Seran wrap. Post injection you can try giving extra strength acetaminophen in liquid or chewable forms. Advil also works, however; be cautious as it may increase the risk of stomach upset.

The bear hug technique has been working well for the small children I have vaccinated so far. The parent sits in a chair. The child sits on their lap and gives the parent a bear hug with their arms over the parent's shoulder. The parent can rub their neck, back or hair to help them relax. The shoulders are exposed for the vaccinator, and it impairs the child's mobility.

Some children like to watch the needle, so definitely should look the other way. Paw Patrol or another favorite cartoon on your phone can be a great distraction. Along with distractions rewards also work well. Plan for a family movie night, a favorite activity, or a special treat to celebrate. Restraining your child or pinning them down is not recommended. The pharmacist may not allow the vaccination to occur if full restraint is required. We do everything possible to make the child feels comfortable and to minimize the fear of a needle.

If your child is 11 and you are ready to get them vaccinated, they do not need to wait to get the adult version. The pediatric dose has shown to work very well for 11-year-olds. If they happen to turn 12, they should get the adult dose as their second shot. In Manitoba it is recommended to get the second dose eight weeks after the first. This has shown to reduce side effects and produce stronger and longer lasting immunity. Children in high-risk communities and first nations children can get their second dose three weeks after the first if needed.

If you have questions on vaccines, its simple; talk to your pharmacist.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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