COVID-19: B.C. youth welcome at vaccination clinics without parental consent

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says people aged 12 to 17 can make up their own mind about receiving a Pfizer vaccine

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Parents who have a COVID-19 vaccination booked can now bring their children aged 12 to 17 to the clinic to get a dose of Pfizer.

On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said this was the quickest way to help get the 310,000 youth in B.C. immunized, and that the youth vaccination program would not be rolled out in schools.

“If you have a parent or a guardian who has an appointment booked for tomorrow and you are 12 to 17 you can go with them,” Henry said.

“The clinics are family friendly. The intent right now is that families can go together and that’s the reason we are doing most of the immunizations through the community clinics we have established.”

Youth arriving with their parents do not have to be registered to receive a Pfizer vaccine – the only vaccine in Canada approved by Health Canada for youth.

Henry said there were not enough public health workers to operate clinics at schools – as most were tied up at immunization clinics and doing contact tracing.

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“Quite frankly most of our public health staff are very much engaged with the immunization clinics as well as managing case and outbreaks,” she said. “It takes a lot of resources to go into every single school in a short period of time and that would not have been able to be done equitably across the province.”

She said parents had also told her office that they wanted to be present when their kids were vaccinated.

However, Henry said youth would not need parental or guardian consent to be vaccinated, as per the Infants Act in B.C. that allows a child or youth to consent to medical treatment including immunizations as long as they are given information.

She said if a youth turns up alone at a clinic a public health nurse will explain the vaccination process and associated risks.

She said there was plenty of vaccine available in B.C. and the introduction of youth vaccinations would not impact the distribution of second doses in the province – which is now down to 13 weeks.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring said setting up in-school vaccination clinics was the best way to vaccinate as many eligible students as possible in the shortest amount of time, and could focus on schools experiencing the highest numbers of exposures.

“Reducing barriers is essential to the success of B.C.’s vaccination program,” Mooring said.

“We’ve seen the province do it with pop-up clinics in high-transmission neighbourhoods, so it’s unclear to us why they are not extending that logic to their approach to vaccinating students.”

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Half of all students aged 12 to 18 in B.C. live in the Fraser Health region, which is also where the highest number of school exposure notices have been issued.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said restrictions on travel between three regions in B.C. – as defined by health authorities – would be lifted next Tuesday. It is expected a ban on indoor dining would also be lifted at the same time.

Horgan will present a plan next Tuesday detailing how provincial health orders will be lifted over the next few months and what will trigger those decisions.

“On Tuesday the circuit breaker will be over, and a road map will be laid out for all British Columbians to see,” Horgan said.

“This is great news for young people, who want to get on with their lives. It’s great news for entrepreneurs, it’s great news for workers, it’s great news for adults who want to get on with their lives. And this is what we have been working towards for the past number of weeks, and there will be an abundant amount of information on Tuesday. We look forward to talking to you about that then.”

There are 4,636 active cases of COVD-19 in B.C., of which 331 are being treated in hospital. There were 357 cases reported on Thursday.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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