2 Hamilton doctors offer out-of-town vaccinations for children under 5 years old. Here’s how to make an appointment

Hamiltonians now have the option of having an outdoor COVID-19 vaccination clinic for their children, thanks to an initiative by two local doctors, Kerry Beal and Joe Oliver.

Oliver, who announced the outdoor clinics on Twitter, said while they target children under five, adults are also being urged to get vaccinated.

“Although children can mask themselves, many of them find it difficult to do so and there are many parents who are reasonably hesitant because they are aware that indoor clinics pose a COVID risk to their child,” Oliver told CBC Hamilton. .

“They would like to have their child vaccinated, not COVID.”

To “protect the children”, Oliver said they do not disclose where the outdoor clinics are held. Parents can make an appointment by sending him a direct message on Twitter. (To do this, you need a Twitter account.)

Hamilton’s mother, Stacy Hushion, said she saw a tweet from Oliver on Sunday and made an appointment for her daughter Lillian, who is just a week away from her second birthday, and her four-year-old sister, Vera .

“I…sent him a DM and voila. It’s a huge relief for us. We’ve been waiting for over [two] years for this moment,” she said.

Hushion says Lillian and Vera both got their shots on Monday.

The Hamilton Public Health Department says the long-awaited vaccine for children, which comes more than a year and a half after the first vaccines for adults, reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19. (Steve Russell/Canadian Press)

Hamilton began accepting appointments on July 28 for COVID-19 vaccines for children aged six months to five years.

The city’s public health department says the long-awaited vaccine, which comes more than a year and a half after the first adult vaccines, reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19, as well as rare complications from an infection. such as multi-system inflammatory state.

“Having more children immunized reduces the risk of disease outbreaks and therefore avoids disruptions to school and activities,” notes the frequently asked questions posted on the city’s website.

Strong demand for outdoor clinics

Oliver says they have more parents requesting vaccines for their children than they have appointments available.

“It grows and grows, more and more,” Oliver said of the interest.

“We had parents contacting us from all over. We’ve had parents contact us from London, Ontario, Guelph, Kitchener, Toronto, Scarborough, and we’ve had parents contact us – some jokingly [I believe] – from Alberta.”

Meanwhile, Oliver says there’s also an rush, with schools set to reopen soon.

“We have a long way to go to make indoor school environments safer by increasing ventilation capacity,” he said.

“There is pressure from parents, reasonably, who want to have their children vaccinated now before the school season starts.”

In addition to offering vaccinations at a central location, the two doctors also traveled to people’s homes to inoculate them.

“We actually did a bit of that yesterday, outside their homes. Like older autistic kids, we often went to their homes to vaccinate as well,” Beal said in an interview Monday.

“[We also facilitate] kids who just can’t go out for one reason or another. Most often it’s kids who have social anxiety and stuff like that.”

Beal says they got 90 doses from Hamilton Public Health Services (HPHS) and more doses are available to them.

“We can go back and get more when we need it,” Beal said.

“We initially picked up three vials, which contain 10 doses per vial, and on the same day we came back and got another six vials once we realized how much interest there was.”

Beal says that at first they thought they would only offer the clinic on Saturdays, they plan to offer them four mornings a week.

The approach isn’t completely new – the two doctors were known to have taken to the streets to vaccinate underserved communities last year as well.

27,000 eligible children in Hamilton

Beal says there are 27,000 children in Hamilton who are eligible to be vaccinated.

But she suspects HPHS wasn’t anticipating huge uptake, given their first order was for just 2,700 doses.

“I think they’re a bit blown away by the number of people interested in having their young children vaccinated,” Beal said.

“They see the same interest we do. We keep hearing people say they’re trying to make an appointment but they’ve all left.”

Beal pointed out that not all parents feel the need to have their children vaccinated outdoors, but said there are those “who are hesitant who have done such a good job of protecting their children over the past two years and don’t want to ruin it now by walking into a building.”

This was the case for Hushion and her daughters. “I know we apparently live in a world where ‘we have to learn to live with COVID’ but I’m not there yet,” she told CBC Hamilton. “If I can prevent it from subjecting them to infection, then I will…And our world can open up a little more now that they have their first vaccine.”

Ottawa doctor leads the way

Oliver says his colleague, Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, is leading the way with outdoor clinics in Ottawa, recognizing the need and desire of caregivers to have an outdoor vaccination option.

“She orchestrated hundreds of under-5s getting the vaccine in a friendly outdoor setting with live music, rocking chairs and more,” he said.

“Hopefully we can make more of this stuff available to caregivers.”

Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth is pictured at her clinic, Common Ground Collaborative Care, in Ottawa on November 11, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

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