Manitoba parents take comfort in wee ones getting COVID shot
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Her fuzzy, pink plush creature with a unicorn horn comforted three-year-old Aiyanna Eischen at her COVID-19 vaccine appointment Wednesday. The shy toddler clutched her toy moments after she received a matching pink “vaccinated” sticker at the downtown RBC Convention Centre vaccination site.
“We feel a little bit relieved now, now that we got it for her,” said Aiyanna’s dad, Dakota Eischen. He said he and his fiancee, Amy Thompson, are vaccinated and were glad to be able to get the vaccine for Aiyanna. They hope to enroll her in nursery school in the fall and want her to be protected against the virus.
“I know there’s a whole debate. Some people don’t want to get it, some people want to get it, but it’s just like, it’s the only way we’re going to slow this virus down, really,” Eischen said. “We try to encourage people, but it’s their choice. Hopefully, those who want to, get vaccinated,” he said.
Getting the vaccine was no big deal for the three-year-old, her dad said.
“She was shy, but when she got the needle, she was fine, she wasn’t crying,” he said.
The family was one of a select few parents with babies and toddlers who went to the downtown supersite for appointments Wednesday afternoon. They had the first appointments since immunocompromised children under five became eligible for the pediatric vaccine in Manitoba. The atmosphere was quiet, amid the summer rain, and only a few visitors to the convention centre had babies or toddlers in tow between 1 and 3 p.m.
The father of a two-year-old boy, who declined to provide his name, said he was likely among the first Manitobans to be able to book a vaccine appointment when booking opened to eligible babies and toddlers on Monday morning. The process was smooth and the immunization team at the clinic was great at dealing with very young kids, he said.
“I’m happy he’s finally gotten it. He still needs his second (dose), but will be more protected. He got COVID a while ago and was quite sick, so being more protected is better, and anything to let us get back to some more normal activities would be great,” he said as the two-year-old showed off his vaccine sticker.
Moderna’s newly approved pediatric vaccine for kids younger than five has just begun rolling out across Canada. Manitoba’s initial supply is limited to babies six months old up to children four years old who have certain serious health conditions.
“I’m happy he’s finally gotten it. He still needs his second (dose), but will be more protected.” – Father
Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced the eligibility criteria last week, saying there will soon be enough of the pediatric vaccine for every child under five in Manitoba, but there isn’t enough yet.
Parents of high-risk little ones have started booking appointments at the downtown supersite or at their doctor’s office. The province didn’t provide an update Wednesday about the number of appointments booked or the number of vaccines administered to children younger than five so far.
The first shipment to Manitoba had 14,000 doses, but there are nearly 77,000 children under five in the province who have chronic diseases and other high-risk conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID infections. So those most vulnerable babies and toddlers are first in line, with no word yet on when eligibility will be expanded to all children under five.
The province’s list of eligible conditions for prioritized pediatric vaccines includes chronic lung disease, airway abnormalities, congenital or chronic heart or circulatory diseases, neurologic disorders, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.