Alberta to start vaccinating small kids against COVID with Moderna by end of July

Tens of thousands of Alberta’s youngest children will soon be able to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

On Thursday, Moderna’s Spikevax became the first COVID vaccine in Canada to be approved to be administered to small children between six months and five years old. 

Alberta expects to receive an initial supply of the vaccine from the federal government and begin offering it to small children by the end of the month, Alberta Health spokesperson Lisa Glover said Thursday.

The vaccine will be administered by Alberta Health Services as the scope of practice for pharmacists for administering immunization is five years of age and older, Glover said. 

This pediatric vaccine is one-quarter the size of those approved for adults. 

According to Health Canada, no out-of-ordinary side effects were recorded during the clinical trials. Pain at the injection site, loss of appetite and sleepiness, which were the most commonly recorded reactions, are normal for pediatric vaccines. 

Dr. Tehseen Ladha, an Edmonton-based pediatrician, said she was thrilled about the COVID vaccine becoming available for small children. 

“As a pediatrician and as a mom of a child [who is] less than five, you know, I’ve seen severe illness with COVID in my practice in children, and I’ve been waiting for a long time to have a tool to prevent this,” she said. 

She thinks the vaccine is going to be a game-changer for reducing the number of children who become very ill or hospitalized with COVID. 

Ladha predicts that the vaccine will be effective for quite some time. 

“We’ve seen, even in adults, that the COVID vaccine, although its efficacy wanes against infection – the effectiveness against getting severe illness tends to remain,” she said. 

“My prediction is that it will still be effective against severe illness months and months, and hopefully even a year, down the road with children.”

Ashley Crosty is a mother of two children, who are five months and three years old. She says she is happy about the vaccines becoming available. 

A former nurse, she said she will “one hundred per cent” sign her children up to be vaccinated. 

“We’ve definitely led a more conservative lifestyle over the past, you know, two plus years,” she said. “I think this will just open up opportunities for us to do more things.”

“I think we’d be just more comfortable vacationing [and] expanding our circle of people that we’ve been interacting with.”

Sonia Shalabi, a mother of three young children, is less enthusiastic about the vaccine. 

She said she is going to wait between six months and a year before deciding whether to inoculate her children.

“I feel like the vaccine is not tested enough to give it to my children,” Shalabi said. 

Pediatrician expects slow uptake

Ladha said she understands the concerns of parents like Shalabi, but still thinks vaccination is the best option.

“Would we rather have a child get COVID, which we know can cause severe illness and we don’t know the long term consequences of, or is it better that we give a vaccine that’s actually rigorously studied and we know can prevent severe illness?”

Dr. Sam Wong, a practising Edmonton pediatrician, expects to see slow uptake of the vaccine. 

“I think it’d be nice if we actually had a nice high rollout and high uptake. I just don’t see it happening as much.”

He said one of the reasons why uptake could be slow is because many children have got COVID in the past six months, “and so they may have to wait, depending on what the guidelines are.”

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