Saskatoon

COVID-19 vaccine a 'light at the end of the tunnel' for one Saskatoon teen

With Saskatchewan announcing a timeline for when teens and youths can get vaccinated in the province, some teens are looking forward to getting the shot to protect them from COVID-19.

Eric James says he'll get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as he can

Sask. is aiming to fully vaccinate everybody in the province who is 12 and older by July 31. (The Canadian Press)

With Saskatchewan announcing a timeline for when teens and youths can get vaccinated in the province, some teens are looking forward to getting the shot to protect them from COVID-19.

Eric James,17, goes to Walter Murray Collegiate in Saskatoon. He said he is excited to receive his vaccine.

"There's always been a light at the tunnel once we started vaccinating but for me specifically I now have kind of a date to look forward to to get vaccinated," James said.

The Province hopes to get everybody in James' age group vaccinated with their first dose by the end of June.

Parental consent will be required for those under the age of 18 but the Saskatchewan Health Authority clarified that children aged 13 years and older can legally consent to, refuse and revoke immunizations on their own behalf if they demonstrate capability and understanding of the standard information.

James said he will take the first opportunity to get vaccinated, whether that comes from immunization clinics at his school, drive-thru clinics or booking an appointment.

"For me personally the risk has definitely gone up with the variants circulating," he said. "The biggest problem for me with COVID is that if someone close to me gets COVID or I get COVID and basically my entire life is going to stop for a couple weeks."

"That's really disruptive for me and those around me."

James said his family has already received their vaccines so he feels lucky that the chance to get the virus is lower for him.

"I'm not too worried about risk to life from COVID-19 but there are still a lot of problems that come from getting COVID," James said. "It's still a big deal."

How to address reluctant kids

Dr. Alexander Wong is an infectious disease physician in Regina.

He said young people may be less keen to get the COVID-19 vaccination, partly because they don't feel the virus is going to be as serious or dangerous for them.

"The science kind of bears that out," Wong said. "I think we're going to need to look at ways to try to engage that young population through social media, through other types of messaging."

Wong said if parents have teenagers or older children who are hesitant to get the vaccine, it's important to find out where that hesitancy or concern comes from.

"I think there's lots of places to get information and it's easy at times to not necessarily know what reliable information looks like," he said.

"If you've gotten messaging talking about how [vaccines] might be dangerous or how risk potentially exceeds benefit for vaccines if you're young, the way that I would talk about it to my kids is really to think about it in terms of protecting others."

Wong said parents can tell kids that them getting vaccinated means they are protecting family members like grandparents who would be more at risk if they got the virus. He said parents can point their teens in the direction of reliable sources, such as the Government of Canada website or the CDC website.

"Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is probably going to be a ticket to normalcy," he said. "For example being able to attend large group events, being able to travel internationally, [those] aren't going to be as accessible if you haven't been fully vaccinated."

With Files from Sam Macaig

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