B.C. is not looking at requiring younger children to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when the Pfizer shot is approved for that age group.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the comments in response to a question at a press briefing Tuesday (Oct. 19).
“I don’t see, at this point, that mandatory vaccinations will be required for children,” Henry said. “This is not something that we’re considering at this point.”
Across B.C., everyone 12 and up must be vaccinated – currently with one dose, next week with two – if they wish to access movie theatres, dine-in restaurants and gyms, along with provincial government employees, health care workers and those in federally regulated workplaces.
Vaccines are not yet available for children under the age of 12, although the Pfizer vaccine could be approved by Health Canada for children ages five to 11 years old next month
Henry said that the decision to impose vaccination requirements is made only when the risks of having unvaccinated patrons or staff outweigh those individuals’ need for access to that venue or workplace.
“What we see with children, thankfully, is that they don’t have severe illness – for the most part – with COVID,” she said. “And so that risk benefit on an individual level is different.
Younger children, she added, have already had their lives heavily interrupted by COVID, including the shutting down of many activities. Some precautions, such as excluding unvaccinated children to protect them when there have been outbreaks, will remain going forward.
“We’re at actually quite excited that we will have some way of protecting young children from getting sick from this virus, but also making sure that they can continue to experience the life that they need during this period in their growth and development.”