FUREY: Only half of Canadian parents are eager to get their kids jabbed

Poll results shouldn’t be a cue to erupt into a new round of vaccine culture wars, this time aimed at our kids

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New polling data from Angus Reid Institute suggests that only about half of Canadian parents are keen to have their kids receive a COVID-19 vaccine soon after it becomes available.

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“If a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to your child(ren) aged five to 11, will you get them vaccinated or not?” the pollster asked respondents.

Half — 51% — said they’d do it as soon as possible. Next, 18% said they’d eventually do it but would wait awhile. Meanwhile, 23% agreed with the statement: “No, I will not get a vaccine for my child(ren)” (9% said “not sure”).

What should we take from these numbers? Let’s start with what we shouldn’t take from them: This shouldn’t be a cue to erupt into a new round of vaccine culture wars, this time aimed at our kids. This is an issue that deserves a mature conversation, not more division.

When the Ontario government announced they were recommending against the use of Moderna in males 18-24, it was following reports of post-vaccine hospitalizations in that group. So far, there have been more than 100 Ontario youth hospitalized for heart issues related to vaccination.

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Health ministry officials speaking on background at the time acknowledged that they had questions as to what degree this issue would play out in the 5-11 age category. After all, the incidence rate of heart issues with both Pfizer and Moderna gets higher the younger the age bracket.

That pediatric doses will be one third the volume of an adult dose was cited by officials as one hopefully mitigating factor that decreases serious side effects. But hoping and knowing are two different things.

What compelled Ontario to recommend against Moderna in young men — and has seen other countries such as Finland, Sweden and Denmark pull it completely for males under 30 — was a 1 in 5,000 myocarditis incidence rate.

Yet the current Pfizer studies being considered by regulators in Canada and the U.S. involved only 2,228 younger kids, and only half of those actually received the vaccine. It’s perhaps numbers such as these that have some parents saying they’ll wait to see how things go.

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Then there’s the fact that people here can look abroad and see that no comparable nations are currently doing this yet and many other countries aren’t moving as keenly to vaccinate the little ones as we seem to be in Canada.

“We are not proceeding with the vaccination of children under 12 for now for several reasons,” Jerome Salomon, France’s public health chief, said last month as schools resumed for the fall session. “In part, because we are lacking sufficient scientific data, and the studies are ongoing. So we will need to adapt as our scientific knowledge evolves.”

Over in England, the pressure to vaccinate small kids is even less given they almost didn’t do it for 12- to 15-year-olds. Their vaccine advisory panel actually recommended against giving it to that cohort last month, and now that they do it’s only a single dose.

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  1. Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott removes her mask to speak at a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.

    Ontario reports 373 new cases of COVID-19

  2. A doctor gives a medical form to a patient.

    Two Ontario doctors barred from issuing COVID medical exemptions

  3. A QR code proving proof of double COVID vaccination.

    All vaccinated Ontarians can now download QR COVID certificates

“I believe that the decision to vaccinate 5- to 11-year-old children is best made after a discussion with a clinical provider that knows the child, as health needs vary greatly,” Dr. Stefan Baral, a Canadian-based epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, told the Sun.

“In the spirit of patient-centred medicine, some children have existing health issues that would make the decision to vaccinate much more clear, whereas other children do not,” added Baral, who previously co-authored a paper questioning the need for emergency authorization of kids vaccines, given how “the likelihood of severe outcomes or death associated with COVID-19 infection is very low for children.”

Given all this and more, it’s only natural for parents to have questions and to hold differing views on the matter. Let’s just hope that, when it comes to something involving our kids, we can leave the hostility behind.

afurey@postmedia.com

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