Friday May 21, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
Now BC teens age 12 to 17 years may register to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The announcement was headed up by Premier John Horgan along with Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix yesterday from Victoria.
Vaccination registration is available online for everyone age 12 years and up now. Appointments for teens will be held, for the most part, at community clinics (with some exceptions in smaller or remote communities, where vaccinations might be done in schools). Dr Henry explained that the cost and logistics of setting up immunization clinics “equitably” at all BC schools was not really possible.
There are about 310,000 youth in the age 12 to 17 years population in BC.
Horgan seemed excited that teens can go along with any older member of their family who also has an appointment. That creates a bit of queue-jumping ahead of people in their 20s and 30s who waited longest for their opportunity to get their first COVID-19 vaccine shot.
“If parents or caregivers book an appointment for one of their children, they have the option to bring other children with them to that appointment, to get everyone vaccinated at once and avoid making multiple trips,” it was confirmed by the Ministry of Health following the live session.
Register ahead or just come along:
However, assurances from Dr Henry: “You can book an appointment yourself if you are a young person in this category, or you can have a parent, guardian, or trusted adult work with you to do that. If a parent or guardian has an appointment booked already, you can bring youth 12 to 17 with you to that appointment. That is one thing that we are going to do at all of the clinics so that families can come together and get vaccinated at the same time. If you plan to do this it helps if you register, but that is not required. When you do arrive at the clinic, let people know so that we can have a special stream to make sure that we are able to get you through efficiently.”
Teens should bring some identification with them to the immunization clinic. That might include BC ID card, school ID, birth certificate, bank card, or “ideally” their Personal Health Number (PHN). If you don’t have a PHN then you should register by phone, Dr Henry said. The Service BC centre phone number for that is 1-833-838-2323.
“There will be a special stream to get you through efficiently,” said Dr Henry during her media session yesterday. There might be after-school clinic times. All vaccinations will be done with the Pfizer-BioNTech product, said BC’s top doctor.
Dr Henry said that public health nurses will explain to youth about the implications and risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Though without a parent or other family member there might not be all questions asked. And in cases where a few youth attend a clinic at the same time there could be peer pressure to ‘move along’ or not ask questions.
Tracking the vaccinations:
All eligible young people will be registered (if not already registered ahead of time) at the clinic they attend, and their vaccination records will be updated when they receive their vaccine. Vaccine records of young people and adults are tracked in the provincial system.
This is immunization program expansion:
The Ministry of Health puts it this way: “B.C. is taking another step forward in the largest mass immunization program in the province’s history, with public health now able to offer vaccines to young people age 12-17. B.C.’s immunization program is moving ahead quickly, with all eligible adults expected to have access to their first dose by the end of June. B.C.’s program aims to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible in a manner that is accessible and efficient for everyone.”
“Public health have identified the immunization clinics currently in operation as the quickest and best way of immunizing most young people. These clinics are currently providing thousands of doses to people throughout B.C. every day, they are open over weekends, and families have the option to get their vaccines at the same time to avoid multiple trips. In some cases, like in smaller communities, young people may be offered the vaccine in other settings or through a whole of community approach.”
“More than 300,000 young people age 12-17 in B.C. can now register, book an appointment, and get vaccinated against COVID-19. In order to put this pandemic behind us, we need to protect as many people as we can with vaccines, and we’re asking young people ages 12-17 throughout B.C., and their families, to register online at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated and get vaccinated at their first opportunity.”
Teen vaccination during continued transmission:
The timing of the availability of COVID vaccines comes as COVID test-positive case rates are heading downward again, though they are still ‘too high’ due to continued transmission, as Health Minister Adrian Dix has reminded British Columbians for the last few weeks.
Hospitalizations (331) and the number of people with the most serious illness being in ICU (113) are still high. The peak numbers in BC pandemic-to-date are 511 hospitalizations and 183 ICU patients. [Vancouver Island COVID hospitalizations presently at 10 with three in ICU; 243 in total to date.
May Long Weekend still has circuit-breaker in force:
With the May long weekend (‘unofficial start to summer’) now upon us, what we do now (in terms of continuing to follow public health orders) will make a difference as to how things unfold in about two weeks.
The circuit-breaker that Dr Henry put into effect remains in place through the entire weekend, May 21 to 24. If there are changes on Tuesday May 25 those will be announced on Tuesday.
Stay local, no non-essential travel, socialize with household-only, wear a mask in all indoor spaces and maintain physical distancing in all circumstances outside your home.
Kind, calm and safe:
“We are all one step closer to the end of this pandemic,” said Dr Bonnie Henry on Thursday. And her trademark line came out in its third-wave version of this long COVID pandemic: “Now is our time to continue to be kind, to be calm and to be safe,” said BC’s top doctor in her livestreamed media session on May 20, in a way that somehow it sounded fresh and new.
===== LINKS & RESOURCES (provided by Ministry of Health):
- We encourage every family to discuss vaccines, as this is an opportunity to talk about why vaccines are important and answer any questions young people may have. More information about mature minor consent can be found here: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/infants-act-mature-minor-consent-and-immunization
- More information about vaccines for young people aged 12-17 can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/youth
- If a young person does not have a PHN, they can register for their vaccine appointment by calling 1-833-838-2323.
- Get Vaccinated in BC (Ministry of Health website)