Ask Your Pharmacist
Why should I vaccinate my child against COVID-19?
There are many reasons to get your child immunized against COVID-19. As we learn more about the virus, we understand its potential impact on young New Brunswickers. Since September 1, 2021 about three out of 10 reported cases of COVID-19 infection are in youth under 20. Immunizing children decreases their likelihood of getting COVID-19, and lessens the seriousness of illness if they do get infected. Children can unknowingly spread the virus to others, including those among us living with weakened immune systems.
On November 19, 2021, Health Canada approved the Pfizer-Biotech COVID-19 vaccine known as Cominarty in children five years of age and older. Researchers have determined that two weeks after the second dose, the vaccine is approximately 90 per cent effective against COVID-19. Potential common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are similar to other childhood immunizations. Your child may develop swelling or redness of the skin at the injection site. Applying a cold pack to the area for 15 minutes at a time may sooth this irritation. Occasionally flu-like symptoms may occur following immunization, including mild fever or chills, headache, muscle aches or joint pain. If these symptoms occur, talk to your pharmacist about dosing of acetaminophen for your child. As with all immunizations, there is a small chance of a serious allergic reaction following immunization. For this reason, it is recommended that patients be monitored by a health care professional for 15 minutes after vaccine administration.
For children between 5 and 11 years old, a two-dose regimen of 10 micrograms will be administered, and for children 12 years and older a two-dose regimen of 30 micrograms will be administered. In New Brunswick, these doses may be given eight weeks apart. Out of an abundance of caution, influenza immunization will be spaced two weeks apart from Comirnaty.
You can help prepare your child for the vaccine by explaining the benefits of immunization to our health. Your pharmacist is happy to answer your little one’s questions. This is a great chance for your child to get used to their pharmacist and asking questions about their own health. It is a good idea to call ahead and let your pharmacist know if your child is afraid of vaccines, or if you have recommendations for the pharmacist that will help ease your child’s experience. Sometimes an iPad, earbuds playing music, or a hand-held video game can be a welcome distraction for the child during immunization. It is important that the volume on these devices is not disruptive to others in the pharmacy, however. Younger kids may benefit from having a favorite stuffed animal with them or a favorite toy from home.
Ask your child whether they want to watch the shot or look away. Some children want the pharmacist to “just do it”. Other children want the pharmacist to explain what is happening step by step. This may allow them to feel in control. Help your child focus on breathing, and encourage them to imagine a comforting or happy memory prior to the injection. Counting backwards from 10 with your child can also be beneficial. After the immunization, praise and congratulate your child for taking a positive step towards their health.
New Brunswick pharmacies are now taking appointments to vaccinate children 5 years of age and older against COVID-19. You can find a list of participating pharmacies here:
You may also book at appointment to immunize your child at a Regional Health Authority: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/nb-vaccine.html.
Let’s make it a top priority to protect the younger generation of New Brunswickers against COVID-19!
Dr. Kevin Duplisea (PharmD BSc. Pharm, BSc. ACPR) is a pharmacist at Sharp’s Corner Drugstore in Sussex, New Brunswick. His opinions expressed in this newspaper are published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Send your questions to AskYourNBPharmacist@gmail.com.
Sussex pharmacist Kevin Duplisea dispenses information and advice on a wide range of pharmacy questions in a regular column published in several newspapers.
If you have a question you’d like to see answered in his column, you can send it to him at AskYourNBPharmacist@gmail.com.