For physicians Aaron Childs and Sonja Mathes, vaccinating their three children is a matter of course.
“As parents of young children we want to do everything we can to keep them healthy and safe,” says Dr. Childs. “As physicians, we choose to vaccinate our children because we know immunizations are safe and effective.”
Getting the whole family vaccinated is not a matter of if but when for the Childs family. Both physicians support B.C.’s program for universal access to childhood immunizations since families with young children may face barriers in accessing health services. Significant efforts are being made to make it easier for families to get their vaccines and improve the patient experience.
The Childs family attended a local family-friendly public health clinic one Saturday for their annual flu vaccines. Specially trained public health nurses helped ease the anxiety caused by needles in arms for children and adults alike. All three of their children were vaccinated against the flu during this visit, and they have already received COVID-19 primary and booster doses.
“It didn’t even hurt,” says Hannah. “I got a sticker, it’s a pumpkin,” proclaims Matthew, who held Emma’s hand while she received her vaccine.
Being healthy is important for the Childs family so that they can safely attend school, work and participate in extracurricular activities, all crucial to development and mental health. Receiving the flu vaccine helps keep the kids healthy and in school, which allows the parents to continue practicing medicine and providing health care to patients. “Beyond the concerns of getting seriously ill from a respiratory infection, we also want to avoid having to take time off work or missing important plans because we are sick or we are home caring for a sick child,” says Dr. Childs.
“We don’t take these things lightly because we know what the impacts are,” says Dr. Mathes. “The kids get it,” adds Dr. Childs. “They understand why we get vaccines, why we follow public health orders and why we take precautions in our family.”
Preventing illness is key to good health, and these physicians have witnessed how vaccinations reduce the damaging impact of COVID-19, influenza and many other illnesses. The Childs family are choosing the tools that help keep their family safer – routine immunizations, including COVID-19 and flu. Immunizations are a powerful public health approach that has been rigorously tested and proven to prevent people from getting sick and reduce the risk of serious illness and death.
“We believe that both COVID-19 and flu vaccines, along with other routine immunizations, help keep our kids and family safe. It’s a simple way to prevent illnesses that can have devastating consequences,” says Dr. Mathes. “This is an important age to vaccinate, especially since young kids haven’t been exposed to influenza in the past two years.”
Dr. Childs and Dr. Mathes advocate for improving health literacy, so people can make informed decisions based on credible Canadian and provincial sources which have been vetted by medical professionals, including www.immunizebc.ca. These trained professionals see a gap in knowledge and understanding because of an overwhelming amount of inaccurate information and inconsistent messages, especially online. This leads to public confusion and frustration, ultimately affecting trust in public health. The consequences can be severe and even life threatening.
Dr. Childs and Dr. Mathes didn’t hesitate to book their flu vaccine appointments for themselves and their children. Like their peers and colleagues, they know the importance of immunizations and encourage other parents to stay informed about which vaccinations you and your children need to stay healthy. In B.C., flu and COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone as a universal public health measure that helps reduce the burden of disease. For the Childs family, it’s just another Saturday.
Book your appointment today!
Register to book your appointment in the Get Vaccinated system: www.GetVaccinated.gov.bc.ca or by calling 1-833-838-2323 (toll-free).