Low vaccination rates for children in Southern Alberta

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. –

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb, doctors and other Lethbridge residents are asking those who haven’t vaccinated their children to do so to help protect them and everyone else.

Alberta Health Services is reporting 39.6 per cent of the province’s five to 11-year-olds have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far.

Lethbridge is just above the provincial average at 42.9 per cent, but the rest of the south zone is well below.

·         Lethbridge (Average: 42.9 per cent)

o   North Lethbridge: 35.1 per cent

o   South Lethbridge: 40.8 per cent

o   West Lethbridge: 52.8 per cent

·         Lethbridge County: 20.8 per cent

·         MD of Taber: 14.1 per cent

·         County of Warner: 19.5 per cent

·         Cardston County: 28.3 per cent

·         Pincher Creek: 34.9 per cent

·         Crowsnest Pass: 33.8 per cent

·         MD of Willow Creek: 22.7 per cent (North), 16.1per cent (Central)

·         Vulcan County: 21.4 per cent

·         County of Newell: 17.3 per cent

·         Medicine Hat: 33.1 per cent

·         Cypress County: 24.3 per cent

·         County of Forty Mile: 6.1 per cent

Some people fear the vaccine could have long-term side effects, but pediatric doctors in Lethbridge say that’s not the case.                                                                                                                 

“Whatever the side effects you see are very, very minimal, like pain at the injection site, some redness, some tiredness, some chills lasting for one to two days,” said Dr. Ram Venkata, a pediatrician with the Chinook Pediatric Clinic.

“But all this can be prevented by taking Tylenol or Advil.”

According to Venkata, the vaccine side effects are nothing compared to the long term side effects of getting COVID, which in some cases can result in death.                 

Alberta Health Services is reporting 39.6 per cent of the province’s five to eleven year olds have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far.                                                                                

“If you see the statistics up to December, 2021, there are 17 pediatric patients died because of COVID in Canada, and 66 patients in the US because of COVID,” he told CTV News.

Parents, grandparents and even siblings are urging others to vaccinate their children and help increase the numbers in Southern Alberta to protect everyone.                                                                                                     

“I think that it’s their time,” said Bev Brezina, a grandmother from Lethbridge.

“Let’s get them vaccinated so that they can go out and do all the things that kids are meant to do.”                                                                            

“It’s definitely important for them going back to school,” Kaelyn Risser, an older sister of two younger bothers, told CTV News.

“Especially with this new variant, it’s been so easy to catch I find, so having the extra protection for them is huge.”

“Children are our base,” said Irfan Bhutta, a father of four.

“We have to protect them as soon as possible. I have my son, 13, he already got his two shots, and my daughter already got one shot and the other shot is due on next Wednesday.”

For anyone that is hesitant, Venkata urges people to do their research and reach out.

“Talk to your primary care provider,” he said.

“Either your pediatrician or your family doctor and express your concerns.”

Venkata also added that if your children are hesitant to get the shot because of a fear of needles, parents are advised to talk to them before hand so they know what to expect and to bring along a toy or blanket to make them more comfortable.

For more information on vaccine eligibility for children, or statistics from across the problem, you can visit the Government of Alberta website.

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