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B.C.'s push to vaccinate children against COVID-19 has stalled. So what about Moderna?

Vancouver and Victoria continue to have the highest rates of pediatric vaccination.
Child COVID vaccine GettyImages-1295840467
Will B.C. parents embrace a COVID vaccine for young children if Moderna gets Health Canada approval? Current pediatric vaccination rates for five-to-11-year-olds show the push to vaccinate children has stalled.

The push to get B.C. children vaccinated against COVID-19 has stalled, even as Moderna moves forward with its vaccine for the youngest children.

Moderna has applied to Health Canada for approval of its vaccine for children aged six months to five years. But, based on the uptake for pediatric vaccination so far, it remains an open question whether British Columbian parents would embrace the option.

Provincewide, as of April 24, just 42% of B.C. children aged five to 11 have received two doses of pediatric vaccine, up just a smidgen from 41% last week. The second-dose rate remains at 57%.

Vaccination rates for five-to-11-year-olds vary widely around the province, with the highest rates of vaccination concentrated in the urban areas of Vancouver and Victoria. The highest two-dose vaccination rates are in Vancouver Midtown (68%), North Vancouver (65%) and Greater Victoria (63%).

Outside of the Vancouver Coastal and Island health regions, New Westminster leads the way in the Fraser Health region, with 54% of children being double-dosed. 

The Interior and Northern regions have significantly lower pediatric vaccination rates. In the Interior health region, Kimberley has the highest two-dose vaccination rate for the 5-11 age group, at just 38%; in the Northern region, it's Haida Gwaii at 35%.

How many B.C. children have been hospitalized with Omicron?

The latest B.C. Centre for Disease Control numbers show the 0-4 age group – all of whom are unvaccinated – with significantly higher case rates, hospitalizations and critical care admissions than older children.

Between March 27 and April 23, children younger than five accounted for 332 of B.C.'s official, publicly recorded cases of COVID-19. Of those, 34 children were hospitalized and seven were admitted to critical care. 

For the 5-11 age group, those numbers drop significantly, with just 99 official, publicly recorded cases: 54 among unvaccinated children, 25 among those with one dose, and 20 among those with two doses. 

The same age group saw just five hospitalizations (one unvaccinated child, and four with one dose), and two critical care admissions (one unvaccinated and one with one dose).

No pediatric deaths were reported.

(The number of cases does not reflect the true number of cases in B.C., since the vast majority of British Columbians remain ineligible for PCR testing, and results of at-home rapid antigen tests are not collected or recorded.)

What effect vaccination could have on those statistics for younger children remains to be seen. Moderna's trials for the smaller-dose vaccine for younger children took place mainly during the wave of the Omicron variant, and the vaccine was less effective at preventing infection in kids than during previous trials in adults.

The BCCDC has confirmed that, as of April 16, 100% of the COVID-19 samples it sequenced were Omicron, with the vast majority being BA.2 and its sublineages.

– with files from Canadian Press

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, jmaclellan@newwestrecord.ca.