Youth aged 12-17 can now register to get a vaccine in B.C.
VANCOUVER -- While B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine website said registration was only open those 18 and older, parents who proceeded through the online portal were able to register their children aged 12-17 for their first dose on Wednesday. Some have even been invited to book appointments.
Health Minister Adrian Dix explained it was a soft launch. “We opened up the system yesterday evening to make sure, to test it. And a few people, a small number of (young people), have already registered and booked their appointments," Dix said. "And now we are letting everyone know that everyone will be able to do that."
More details on when additional vaccine booking invitations will be sent to young people are coming in a press conference Thursday at 2 p.m. It’s expected the vast majority of 12-17 years olds will be offered vaccination at clinics, and not their school.
“We have created an extraordinary system of clinics around B.C., so this will allow all those (aged 12-17) to go and take advantage of that and get registered and absolutely book when they get their notice to book, and get vaccinated,” said Dix.
But one infectious disease expert disagrees with the plan to vaccinate young people in clinics alongside adults.
“My view is it should actually be done in schools. This will give the opportunity for students and their parents to ask questions of an expert that could be made available, it would provide a vaccine in an environment that is familiar to the students,” said Dr. Brian Conway with the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre. “I bet if you ask them and ask their parents if vaccines are available in the schools, that’s where they would go.”
Conway says it’s critical those aged 12 to 17 get both doses of the vaccine before the next school year begins, and is concerned that may not happen if parents have to register and book their kids at vaccination clinics.
“Over a million and a half British Columbians have not registered online to get their vaccine, so that tells me that the system that is currently in place is not meeting the needs of everyone,” said Conway. “To my mind one of the things that is plaguing our vaccine roll out here is the rigidity of the design as it is.”
But Dix is confident young people will get their vaccines at clinics.
“This is exciting news that people have been waiting for for a long time, and we encourage people to get out and register," he said.