New Westminster continues to lead the way for children's COVID vaccinations – but 40% of local kids still don't have their first shot.
As of Jan. 25, 60% of New Westminster children aged five to 11 had received their first dose of Pfizer pediatric vaccine. That vaccination rate continues to lead Fraser Health (the region stretching from Burnaby to Hope and surrounding area). Burnaby is also at 60%.
Fraser Health continues to lag behind the Vancouver Coastal Health region, however, as multiple local areas within that region now have pediatric vaccination rates of 70% or higher. Leading the way are the Central Coast, at 76%; Vancouver Midtown, at 75%; and North Vancouver, at 74%.
The Island also has high rates in Greater Victoria (73%) and the Saanich Peninsula (72%). (See full list below.)
Second-dose appointments started this week for the first eligible B.C. kids, based on an eight-week interval from their first shot.
The second-dose rollout begins against the backdrop of newly strengthened recommendations from Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Previously, NACI had said that COVID vaccine "may" be given to five-to-11-year-olds; now, in light of the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, that guidance says it "should" be given to all five-to-11-year-olds.
Number of children being hospitalized has gone up
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry highlighted the change in B.C.'s COVID-19 briefing on Jan. 25.
“What we are seeing is that five-to-11-year-olds, thankfully, remain at low risk of severe disease, but the number of children being hospitalized because of infections has gone up, as the number of infections has gone up across our communities," Henry said.
“In addition, we have new and reassuring real-world safety data from millions and millions of young children who have been protected through vaccination."
The guidance continues to recommend an eight-week interval between doses.
“That first dose will provide tremendous protection,” Henry said. “It’s an 80% protection once your immune system has started developing those antibodies, and that will make the difference for what’s happening right now. But we want to make sure that we’re protecting children for the long run as well.”
The extended interval between doses increases cell-mediated immunity and antibodies for long-term protection in children, Henry said.
For those parents awaiting invitations to book their child's second dose, Henry offered assurance that B.C.'s Get Vaccinated system will be sending those invites.
“You will receive an invitation to book your second dose around the eight-week period," she said. "Sometimes it’s a few days before or a few days after, but our system is working really well, and you will get that invite.”
Want to get your child vaccinated?
In order to be vaccinated, five-to-11-year-olds must first be registered in B.C.'s Get Vaccinated system, after which time an invitation will be sent (by text or email) to book an appointment.
You can find all the information online at B.C.'s pediatric vaccine page, or call the central vaccination line at 1-833-838-2323.
Who's vaccinating their kids in B.C.?
Here's a look at the most-vaccinated local health areas in the province. Numbers reflect first doses for the 5-11 population as of Jan. 25.
Central Coast: 76%
Vancouver Midtown: 75%
North Vancouver: 74%
Greater Victoria: 73%
Saanich Peninsula: 72%
Vancouver West Side: 69%
Vancouver Northeast: 67%
West Vancouver/Bowen Island: 65%
Vancouver City Centre: 65%
Western Communities: 64%
Vancouver South: 63%
Vancouver Centre North: 63%
New Westminster: 60%
Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, email@example.com.