The provincial government's plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11 against COVID-19 will begin with invitations to book appointments starting on Monday, Nov. 29.
The province hopes to complete most vaccinations in the age group by the end of January 2022.
Parents wishing to vaccinate their children should first register them under B.C.'s Get Vaccinated program, available online at getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca. About one-quarter of eligible children are already registered.
Parents or guardians with questions about the vaccine can find information online at gov.bc.ca/vaccineforkids or by calling 1-833-838-2323. Consultations can also be done through a pediatrician, family doctor or nurse practitioner.
Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading B.C.'s immunization program, said clinics will be child-friendly, with quiet areas available if needed and aligned with best practices for child-vaccination processes, including staff able to deal with kids with special needs.
Although case rates have fallen among all age groups, they remain highest in nine- to 11-year-olds and five- to eight-year-olds. In comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds, data shows a dramatic decline in case rates among those who are vaccinated, which is in line with other age groups.
"It really shows us how well this vaccine is protecting people of all ages against transmission of this virus," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
Children between the ages of five and 11 will receive a smaller dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 10 micrograms, compared to the 30 micrograms adults receive in each dose. Henry said this is because younger immune systems need smaller dosages to provide a robust response.
Ballem said survey information indicates about 58 per cent of parents plan on vaccinating their children immediately, 18 per cent plan to do so, but are awaiting further information, and 24 per cent are not sure if they will inoculate their children.
In comparing the risks of COVID-19 against the risks of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, Henry said serious adverse reactions to the vaccine are seen at a rate of about 2.7 per 100,000 among those ages 12 to 17 in B.C., with most of those reactions being issues such as fevers, rashes or swelling at the site of injection. More serious events are much more rare, with Henry saying there have been 14 events that required hospitalization due to severe allergic reactions.
The incidence of COVID-19 in the same age group, meanwhile, shows a rate of 4,477 per 100,000 among 12- to 17-year-olds who are unvaccinated and 352 per 100,000 among those who are partially or fully vaccinated.