SURREY (NEWS 1130) — A public health expert is assuring people in the Fraser Health region there’s no need to panic if your child’s immunization shot has been delayed because of COVID-19.
Dr. Monika Naus tells NEWS 1130 waiting a few weeks for vaccinations won’t hurt your kids now that the pandemic has forced the cancellation of some appointments for families in the Fraser Health region.
“I think two weeks is very normal to get an appointment for vaccination even pre-COVID,” she says. “The priority is really children under two, to make sure that they’ve got those primary doses in. And then in terms of booster doses or the doses that we give adolescence — those are certainly less urgent with respect to the exact timing.”
If your child is due for an appointment, Naus suggests booking ahead but if your appointment is delayed she says the risk “is very very low.”
“One good thing that COVID has done, maybe the only good thing, is that with the reduced travel that we have, and with the physical distancing the hand washing the mask-wearing we’ve seen a decline in the diseases that are spread by the respiratory route,” she says.
“So we’ve had no measles imported into the province at all. This year, whereas we had several importations in 2019, including some outbreaks.”
For Toni Almhjell, a mom in Delta, Naus’s assurance is a relief since she had re-booked shots for her three-year-old daughter and six-month-old son.
“What I was told was that when they have a handle on things and have more availability to make the appointment that they will be contacting me.”
Almhjell explains since there is limited availability, “you basically have to take the appointment.”
But she says she is not anxious about the wait.
“I know that the vaccinations are important, but obviously, the COVID contact tracing that they’re utilizing the public health nurses for is kind of more pressing at the moment.”
Most re-booked appointments are for some time in November.
In an email statement to NEWS 1130, Jacqueline Blackwell with the Fraser Health Authority says it is working to reschedule impacted flu and child immunization appointments as quickly as possible.
“Flu and early childhood vaccines are also available by appointment from immunizing doctors and pharmacists, as well as at some community influenza vaccine clinics. We want to emphasize that it is early in the flu season and there is still plenty of time for people to receive their flu shot.”
For the Vancouver Coastal Health region, Deana Lancaster with the health authority, says it has not cancelled public health flu vaccination clinics.
“Childhood immunizations are extremely important, and Vancouver Coastal Health highly recommends that parents have their children immunized with all recommended vaccines and on time. VCH monitors this program closely, including wait times, so that children, in particular, are not delayed in receiving this protection.
The immunization program for school-age children was affected last spring when schools were closed. Many of the eligible children were immunized in clinics that ran through the summer. VCH will continue with the school-aged immunizations starting in December and continuing until June.
There may be limited spots but you can make an appointment on the VCH site.