When six-year-old Frey walked out of a Gold Coast vaccination clinic this week, she knew her “little army” was going to work to protect her from COVID-19.
Vaccines have been open to children aged 5-11 years since Monday
While some parents have faced canceled appointments, others have had positive experiences at government hubs
The government says parents facing GP cancellations can try pharmacies and state clinics
“The way we explained it to Frey is that her immune system is a small army and it fights bacteria. So the vaccination gives her immune system a chance to practice the fight,” said her mother, Amy.
Despite delays that have made some parents frustrated by canceled reservations, those who have managed to get their children vaccinated are already relieved.
More than 86,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received a vaccine since they were eligible on Monday, and some state vaccination clinics are doing everything they can to make it fun to be shot.
When Marnie Higgs took her nine-year-old son Freddie with her to be vaccinated while getting a booster, the mood at the Melbourne Vaccination Clinic was remarkably different from her previous doses.
“I must say, the adult area – not nearly as fun. No show bags, no lollipops, very disappointing,” she joked.
When they attended Monday, the first day vaccinations were open to children ages 5-11, Marnie and Freddy were greeted with special decorations, and after the big event, he was given a certificate and a show bag.
Marnie said Freddie, like Amy’s daughter Frey, understood the importance of getting vaccinated, even though needles in themselves can be scary.
“He really liked the idea of being protected and being able to go to school, and he knows he’s got protection, instead of just relying on a mask or not playing close with his friends,” she said.
Parents struggling with reservations are encouraged to try pharmacies
So far, not all parents have had a hassle-free time trying to get their children vaccinated.
Some have reported that practicing clinics have canceled reservations due to insufficient supply or excessive demand.
In response to the criticism, the head of the government’s vaccine task force, Lieutenant General John Frewen, urged parents to try pharmacies or state clinics that both Marnie and Amy used in Victoria and Queensland.
“I understand well if there had been frustrations around getting appointments,” he said Monday.
“If you can not get an immediate appointment with your primary care nurse, if it is your GP, please try the pharmacies. Please try the state centers.
“There will be additional bookings online every day and there will be more and more options over the coming weeks.”
But with the school year fast approaching, it is never urgent to get children vaccinated.
“[The community] asked our teachers to get vaccinated. In return, I think we should offer them that extra layer of protection, “Amy said.
“Many of those teachers are over 60. So I can see why it fills many teachers with anxiety, knowing that they will be put back in this situation.”
Both mothers reported that their children only had arm pain and they seemed to have avoided the more serious side effects that can make some adults feel miserable for a day or so.
A sore arm is the most common side effect in children, according to Pfizer’s vaccine trial, which found that other common side effects in children were headache (reported in 25 percent of cases) and fatigue (reported in 35 percent of cases)).
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