Thousands of kids in York Region have rolled up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccination

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Dr. Bear's advice

Needles can be scary. We understand. Follow Dr. Bear's advice for a "pawsitive" vaccination experience.

View Dr. Bear's four steps.

Oak Valley Health, in partnership with the Eastern York Region North Durham Ontario Health Team, launched a dedicated child-friendly vaccination clinic for kids aged five to 11.

On November 29, Cornell Community Centre opened its doors and welcomed youth with an inviting space and special activities. The very first child to be vaccinated was Brendan St. Croix, who said he “felt good” after receiving the shot. 

Providing some support and a little encouragement, Dr. Bear is there every step of the way – quite literally – kids can follow his footprints from start to finish.

The children’s vaccination clinic operates on completely separate days than the adult clinic, creating a more inviting, comfortable environment including children’s chairs in the waiting room to sit beside their parent or caregiver.   

“Kids are surrounded by their peers, and are able to take a few extra minutes to simply take a deep breathe, ask questions, play a game, and lower their anxiety before being vaccinated,” says Dr. Joseph Wiley, Interim Chief of Paediatrics at Oak Valley Health.

During the process of receiving the shot, the clinic offers a variety of distractions such as ‘find Dr. Bear’ game, stickers, their choice of bandages, and popular kids movies are playing while they wait the 15 minutes afterwards.

The clinic also has Oak Valley Health paediatricians on site administering vaccinations.

“Families can be confident that they will have a safe and welcoming experience during their child’s vaccination appointment,” says Dr. Wiley. “It’s so important to keep this vulnerable population safe and make sure they have the best protection against COVID-19.”

Preparing your child for their vaccination

Oak Valley Health also has a document recommending a few things that can help prepare your child for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Of course parents and caregivers know their child best, so it’s important to take a few minutes before coming to the clinic to prepare and make a plan," says Julie Atkinson, child life specialist at Oak Valley Health. “This way your child has the best experience possible.”

Giving children a choice allows children to be present in the process and gives them a sense of autonomy over their body. Instead of asking “are you ready”, as this is not a choice the child has, opt for “do you want to sit on your own, or on my lap?”

The steps also mention validating your child’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Sharing words of encouragement, and acknowledging how proud they should be of themselves.

Cornell Community Centre is open daily for adult and kids doses, and appointments are available. For information on clinic hours and parking, visit our vaccination page.