Even Infants And Young Children Can Get Covid-19 Vaccine
Question: We have three young children, two, four, and seven years of age. Both of us have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine because our employers required us to get them. We are not planning to get any booster dose unless we have to. Our seven-year-old daughter is not yet vaccinated. Every day, when they go to school, daycare, or summer camp, I worry that they will get sick. Many of our friends have been infected with Covid-19, some even though they were fully immunized. I heard that the vaccine has recently been approved for young children in US; some of our friends have brought their children across the border to get vaccinated. We are really struggling to decide whether we should get our children vaccinated or not. I worry that they will get Covid-19 infection, but I am also uncomfortable about the vaccine. Please help us to make the right decision for our family.
I understand that you are worried about your children. Across Canada, almost all Covid-19 restrictions and mandates have been lifted in the last few months. There are large gatherings everywhere, with no physical distancing; hardly anyone is wearing mask. Although most Canadian adults have received two or more doses of Covid-19 vaccine, a lot are still unvaccinated.
As a result, Covid-19 virus is spreading fast once again, another sub-variant of Omicron is causing this 7th wave of pandemic in Canada. This wave of infection coincides with fewer healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, from burnout and retirement, as well as being infected with Covid-19 themselves. Our whole healthcare system is buckling from all sides, with long delay or closure of emergency rooms and overfilled children’s hospitals.
Although children generally have milder disease than frail seniors, some children have underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to serious Covid-19 infection. They are at higher risk than ever before because more people are getting infected in the community, and the virus spreads easily in daycare and summer camps among children. Their parents are struggling to keep them safe.
Even though you have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine, your immunity against the virus declines over time, and you are less protected now than few months ago. At the same time, the virus continues to mutate and has become more infectious. As a result, you are now less protected against the new variants of Covid-19. A booster dose can increase your immunity, and reduce the chance of you getting infected and passing the virus to your children.
Right now, the most vulnerable ones are those unvaccinated: your children. I understand that you are uncomfortable with the Covid-19 vaccines: they are new with no long safety track-record. However, you should take comfort to know that Health Canada is diligent in monitoring research and safety records. Furthermore, many millions of people in Canada and around the world have received these vaccines, with very few serious side effects.
As I write this, Health Canada has approved the Moderna vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years of age. I anticipate that the decision will be made soon for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. They will be rolled out in the near future to all provinces. I urge you to get your children vaccinated because they are at high risk of infection. This will prevent them from getting too sick, and passing the virus to those who may die from Covid-19 infection. Both of you should get the booster dose also to enhance your immunity against the virus.
In the meantime, I still encourage parents to avoid large gatherings, and wear a mask indoor to keep everyone safe.