Vaccination of children aged 12 and up is getting underway in B.C., with community clinics, and parents who have already booked their own appointments can do it as a family.
Registration of children under 18 is preferred but not necessary to get a COVID-19 shot, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday. Families should notify clinic staff when they arrive if they are adding unscheduled people, and bring student or other identification and personal health numbers if children have them.
“If you have a parent or a guardian who has an appointment booked for tomorrow and you’re 12 to 17 you can go with them,” Henry said. “We’ll make the clinics family-friendly for everybody.”
The province estimates there are 310,000 people between the age of 12 and 17 eligible to be vaccinated. Henry said community clinics were chosen rather than a separate school immunization program to allow families to attend together, which public health authorities found the most likely to maximize the delivery of vaccines.
All available vaccination staff are already working in community clinics, Henry said, and immunization clinics are operating through the Victoria Day long weekend. In smaller and more remote communities, whole-community clinics will be used as they have in higher-risk areas, and some will be held in schools.
Henry reported 357 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the first time below 400 since October 2020, when the second wave of infection was climbing in B.C. There are 331 people in hospital as of May 20, 113 of them in intensive care, continuing a slow decline in recent weeks. Three more deaths attributed to the coronavirus were recorded, for a total of 1,658 since the pandemic began.
Premier John Horgan stressed that public health orders prohibiting non-essential travel are extended through the Victoria Day long weekend, with a plan to be laid out on Tuesday, May 26 for the relaxation of pandemic restrictions in the weeks to come.
“Don’t look for loopholes, don’t look for ways around it,” Horgan said. “Find another way to enjoy the weekend.”