B.C. youths aged 12-17 can get a COVID-19 vaccine at parent's appointment
VICTORIA -- Youths between the ages of 12 and 17 can come to a parent's COVID-19 vaccine appointment and get a shot of their own, B.C. health officials revealed Thursday.
That's one way the province is hoping to quickly immunize young people now that the government's vaccine registration system has been opened up to anyone 12 and older, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
"Appointments are being booked for about 310,000 youth aged 12 to 17, and all of them are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine," Henry said.
While the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one currently approved for use in children as young as 12, Henry said officials are hopeful the Moderna vaccine will receive similar approval soon.
Some students in the province will be able to get their first dose at school, but Henry said most will be using the same immunization sites and clinics as adults.
That can mean booking their own appointment or tagging along with a parent or guardian who already has one scheduled.
"That's one thing we're going to do at all of our clinics, so that families can come together and get vaccinated at the same time," Henry said.
It's helpful if young people who arrive at a parent's appointment are already registered, Henry said, but not necessary.
"When you do arrive at the clinic, let people know so that we can have a special stream to make sure that we're able to get you through efficiently," she added.
Young people can register for vaccination the same way as adults: by visiting the Get Vaccinated website, going to a Service B.C. location, or calling 1-833-838-2323. Those who lack a personal health number have to use the phone line to register.
Children can do so even without the approval of their parents. Under B.C. law, minors can make their own health-care decisions provided a medical professional deems them capable.
The government's goal is for the majority of eligible students to receive their first dose by the end of the school year.
Dr. Brian Conway of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre argued that vaccinating students at school would make more sense than clinics, and likely be supported by most parents.
He noted that more than 1.5 million B.C. residents still haven't registered for their first shot.
"That tells me that the system that is currently in place is not meeting the needs of everyone," Conway told CTV News Wednesday.
Apart from wanting families to be able to get vaccinated together, Henry said offering COVID-19 vaccines at schools would be a complicated and difficult process compared to utilizing the many clinics that have already been set up.
"It takes a lot of resources to go into every single school in a very short period of time, and that would not have been able to be done equitably across, especially, some of our larger health authorities," she said.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Shannon Paterson