Most parents in Kelowna got vaccinated, but many are wary of having their children get the jab for COVID.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, 90 per cent of adults in Kelowna are vaccinated, while only 36 percent of children aged five-11 have received the shots.
Dr. Manish Sadarangani, director of the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at the B.C. Children’s Hospital Research Institute, said that people typically don’t get inoculated for three reasons, named ‘the three Cs’.
He explained that confidence, or a lack of it, complacency and convenience of getting the vaccine are the primary factors.
A Kelowna registered nurse and mother of three, who requested not to be named, said that she is not confident in the safety of the vaccine and while she is vaccinated, has decided to wait for more information to be available before giving the dose to her children.
“I’ve always believed strongly in vaccinating myself and my kids,” she explained.
As a healthcare worker, she was prioritized for the vaccine and her husband received his as soon as possible. But when it comes to her children, “I just don’t know enough,” she said.
She said she was unable to find information on long-term COVID vaccination trials in children and is wary of the mRNA technology.
Since COVID infections are typically mild in children, and because the vaccination doesn’t prevent transmission, she questions the need.
“I’m not saying never,” she said.
Dr. Sadarangani explained that despite the short timeline for the manufacturing and the release of the vaccine, “a standard process when assessing the vaccination was followed …. no corners were cut.”
Sadarangani said that vaccinations typically take years to develop and release simply because of bureaucracy.
“It takes a long time because it sits in a queue. For COVID, essentially it came to the front of the queue.”
He also said that scientists stopped other research to conduct clinical trials on all age groups, helping to expedite the release process.
Sadarangani explained that trials were all run to completion and not compromised to release the vaccine sooner.
The reason an mRNA vaccine hasn’t previously been released, despite its safety, is because scientists had to develop a way to protect the molecules long enough for it to do its job. mRNA is biological coding which teaches cells to make a spike protein that will trigger an immune response and create a lasting memory in the immune system. Spike proteins are found on the surface of viruses like COVID-19.
“There is no sound biological basis that we could see reactions to the vaccine in the long-term,” said Sadarangani. He explained that after the body degrades the mRNA and spike protein there is nothing left to react to. The process takes about two days, he said.
Most of the adverse reactions that people have to the vaccination is due to the body’s immune response to the spike proteins.
One of the serious, but rare complications of COVID is the Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in children and adolescents, an illness that typically occurs two to six weeks following a COVID infection.
“We have seen otherwise healthy children get very sick,” said Sadarangani.
Sadarangani maintains that the vaccine continues to reduce transmission and offers effective protection against all current variants of COVID-19.