The Porcupine Health Unit (PHU) is ready to implement a variety of adaptations for COVID-19 vaccine clinics tailor-made for children aged 5-11.
Partnerships with local school boards, recreational sports organizations, child and family experts and primary care have been formed to prepare for vaccine arrival in the PHU region.
We have seen an increase of positive COVID-19 cases in the PHU region and across the province in recent weeks. Many of these cases are in children in the 5-11 age group. It is now more important than ever that every eligible child receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available. Colder weather and the upcoming Holiday season mean that children and their families are spending more time indoors and can easily spread the virus and its variants.
As vaccine becomes available in our region, the PHU has modified mass immunization sites to become “Family-Friendly Neighborhood Clinics” where adaptations for clients aged 5-11 will be implemented.
The Porcupine Health Unit recognizes that immunization can incite fear and anxiety in children and their families. The sounds and sights of a mass immunization clinic may be overwhelming. For these reasons, the PHU has put up privacy screens around the immunization stations at all mass immunization clinic sites throughout the region. The “family pods” will decrease sight stimulation for those children who are waiting to receive their vaccine and who are already fearful of needles. Parents or legal guardians and other children in the family, are encouraged to accompany the child who is being vaccinated in the family pod.
Parents or legal guardians are encouraged to ask questions, discuss their concerns, or use calming aids to comfort their child when they sit with the immunizer at the family pod. Knowing that immunizing a child presents some challenges, our experienced immunizers will take the time that is necessary to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Children are encouraged to bring a favourite toy, music, book or other comfort item to the clinic. A sticker game will be introduced to the children upon arrival where they will receive a sticker for every step of the vaccination process. This incentive-based game will support parents or legal guardians to encourage cooperation from the child and instill a sense of pride and confidence in the child who has successfully completed their vaccination.
Children in this age group will NOT be vaccinated without consent from their legal guardian or parent.
Sensory-Friendly and After-Hours Vaccination Clinics
Understanding that most children aged 5-11 attend school during the day, after-school-hours and weekend clinics will be held in smaller, outlying communities in the PHU region. Several after-hours clinics will be available at the Family-Friendly Neighborhood Clinics as well as pop-up clinics in different areas in Timmins and South Porcupine.
Sensory-friendly COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held for families who prefer an even calmer, toned-down atmosphere. Lights will be dimmed, appointment times will be even longer, and walk-ins will not be permitted. Attention will be given to take more time and to provide a more relaxing environment to those children and families who have booked an appointment at these specific clinics.
In planning discussions with community organizations who make-up our COVID-19 Vaccine Youth Working Group, community partners who are experts in the fields of child-development, child-behaviour and child-mental health will be present at many of our clinics throughout the district. These child-experts will be on-site to support children and their families by providing:
Knowing that children feel more comfortable in familiar environments, the PHU has partnered with several area organizations to offer clinics throughout the community.
The Timmins Native Friendship Centre (TNFC) has once again partnered with the PHU to host several family-friendly, co-developed COVID-19 vaccine clinics at their centre. TNFC staff will be present to support children and families who attend the clinics. While respecting public health measures, they also have some activities planned to keep children entertained while at the clinic.
Two community clinics for children aged 5-11 are planned to be held at the Cochrane Temiskaming Children’s Treatment Centre (CTCTC). There, children with special needs and their families will be invited to receive their COVID-19 vaccine in an environment and with staff who are familiar to them. Attention to mobility needs and extra time for comfort measures will be mitigated by expert CTCTC staff to support families. Although these clinics are tailor-made for clients of CTCTC, any child and their parent or legal guardian is welcome to attend.
The PHU has partnered with Science Timmins to offer 3 weekend clinics at the Science Village. Free entry for the vaccinated child and for up to 3 family members will be given. Science Timmins staff will be on-site to deliver a safe and entertaining experience for all attending families and to ensure strict adherence to public health measures throughout the event.
The Barn (Carlo Cattarello arena), in partnership with Porcupine Minor Hockey Association will also serve as a site for family-friendly COVID-19 vaccinations. Children attending this clinic will be greeted by familiar faces as volunteers from PMHA have committed to supporting the PHU during this community clinic.
Trust the Facts, Get the Vax!
Do kids really need the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Everyone does! Getting the vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19. Kids can get and spread COVID-19 and have symptoms that last for a long time. Getting your vaccine also adds to the total number of people with vaccines, which helps protect people who can get sick easily like babies, grandparents, or people with cancer.
What risks do kids face if they get COVID-19?
Anyone who gets COVID-19 can be very sick, have long-lasting complications and die. The most common serious sickness following COVID-19 infection in children aged 5-11 is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.
If my child is feeling unwell after the vaccine, when should I call a health care provider?
Call a health care provider if your child develops a high fever (Over 40°C or 104°F) or side effects that do not get better after a few days. Seek immediate medical attention or call 911 if your child is very sleepy, gets hives, swelling to the face, throat or mouth, trouble breathing, seizures/convulsions, or other serious symptoms.
How to support an anxious child?
Worried about bringing your anxious child in for their vaccine? Our PHU staff is here to help. Our “Neighborhood Family-Friendly” clinics will be child and family friendly and will focus on providing children with a safe and calm vaccination environment. Please let our staff know if you or your child has ever felt faint/dizzy, fainted, or are afraid of needles so we can make sure to take all steps to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Can kids choose what vaccine they get?
At this time, the only vaccine available to kids aged 5-11 is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It is the same vaccine as what people aged 12 and older get, but it will be a smaller dose.
Do kids aged 5-11 need two needles, like people who are 12 years old or older?
Yes. Just like some of the vaccines you had when you were a baby (like mumps and measles), children aged 5-11 will need two doses to make sure they’re protected. You are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after your second dose.
Is the kid’s dosage the same as 12 years old and older?
No. Kids aged 5-11 will be getting a smaller dose but don’t worry, this dosage will still provide them with protection from COVID-19.
How does the vaccine work?
Vaccines teach our bodies how to fight off an infection by making our body’s immune system stronger; before we get sick. This helps train our immune system to know how to react if we do get sick with the real infection.
Does getting a vaccine hurt?
Some people say that it feels like a tiny pinch, but others say they can’t even feel it!
If needles make you worried, tell your caregiver and the person giving you the vaccine. They have lots of strategies to help.
What are the side-effects of the vaccine?
When it was being studied, the vaccine showed the same or even fewer side effects (sore arm, fever, tiredness, muscle aches) compared to people who are 12 or older, and there were no cases of severe COVID-19, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), or myocarditis/pericarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle or the sac containing the hear) seen up to three months after the second dose of vaccine.
Will the vaccine change genetics or cause infertility?
No. The active ingredient in the vaccine is called mRNA. It gets broken down very quickly after it is injected and cannot access your genetics. The COVID-19 vaccines do not affect puberty, the ability to have children, or hormones as it is not involved in these body systems.
Do I have to worry about any long-term effects of the vaccine?
Doctors and scientists are confident in the long-term safety of the COVID-19 vaccines for several reasons:
When considering long-term risks, a COVID-19 infection is a much more serious problem. The virus can cause long-term damage to lungs and other organs, as well as many other complications. This is called “post-COVID-19 syndrome”, or “long COVID”, and it’s one of the reasons why doctors recommend getting vaccinated.
How were COVID-19 vaccines developed and approved so quickly?
Did you know it is illegal to sell or market a vaccine in Canada that has not completed all required stages of research and safety trials? The development of vaccines for COVID-19 has moved quickly for many reasons, including:
COVID-19 vaccines have been put through the same review process that all vaccines go through to be approved for use by Health Canada. Since the pandemic has affected the whole world, the Federal Government of Canada has made sure to give more money, time and focus to science, and people to review the process for COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.
Can children with medical issues be vaccinated?
Yes. Children with medical conditions such as Autism, ADHD, heart, lung, or kidney problems, or any other condition can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, kids with other medical issues may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19, so it can be especially important to ensure they are vaccinated. Let our staff know if your child requires any special considerations during the vaccination process.
Can children with allergies get the vaccine?
Yes! Children with severe allergies to food, medications, and insect bites should all be vaccinated. There are very few ingredients in the vaccines that could cause an allergic reaction. If your child has had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or medical product, or if you have other questions about allergic reactions, speak to your health care provider before getting the shot.
Can children on medication get the vaccine?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine does not interfere with other medications. Talk to your health care provider if you have more questions.
Should I be worried about myocarditis/pericarditis?
Myocarditis and pericarditis following a COVID-19 vaccine is extremely rare and the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risk. Most cases of pericarditis and myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination were mild and the individuals did well with a little treatment. Myocarditis and pericarditis happen way more often after a COVID-19 infection, compared to after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
How do I book an appointment?
Easy. Follow this link: https://www.porcupinehu.on.ca/en/your-health/infectious-diseases/novel-coronavirus/covid-vaccine/ Or call the Porcupine Health Unit, we’d be happy to help you book.
Do you have any more questions?
We’d be happy to hear from you. Contact us and we will answer your questions!
These sticker games will be introduced to the children upon arrival where they will receive a sticker for every step of the vaccination process. This incentive-based game will support parents or legal guardians to encourage cooperation from the child and instill a sense of pride and confidence in the child who has successfully completed their vaccination.