Will it only hurt in one spot? Ottawa's top doctor answers COVID-19 vaccine questions from children

Ottawa's medical officer of health says children will be able to do more activities with their friends and family once they receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Two days before the first COVID-19 vaccines will be administered to children ages 5 to 11 in Ottawa, Dr. Vera Etches answered questions from children and parents about the COVID-19 vaccine during a special broadcast on CTV News at Six.

Grade 3 student Willow asked Dr. Etches if she will be able to go to more places and do more activities after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Willow, that is the idea, absolutely!," said Dr. Etches Wednesday evening.

"You've been missing out being able to go to some of your sports activities, whether that's hockey or dance, to join in kids in after-school groups or even go to a restaurant where there are crowds or there are more people gathering, children just haven't had that protection from the vaccine. So when you have that - and it's going to take two doses, two little boosts to strengthen your immune system - then you can have really a lot of confidence, you can feel good protection to go forward and do more things."

On Friday, the first of 77,000 Ottawa children between the ages of 5 and 11 will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Ottawa's community clinics. By Dec. 23, more than 60,000 appointments will be available for the children to receive the vaccine.

Grade 4 student Ty wanted to know if it would only hurt in one spot when they receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

"That is the case right when you get that pinchy feeling from getting the vaccine in your arm – it's just your arm that you'll feel it for a second," said Dr. Etches.

"Then it might be the next day or the day after that where you could feel things actually across your body because your immune system is all through your body, it's learning how to fight the virus and you can feel that sometimes. You can feel tired, you could feel sore muscles, you might get a headache. These things don't happen to everybody, but they are pretty common and they'll go away."

And Grade six student Marty asked that since he is set to turn 12 in the new year, should he get the adult dose after his birthday or the COVID-19 vaccine for children now.

"I would love to see you get the vaccine as soon as possible, so that means taking the 11-year-old dose and you can book your appointment," said Dr. Etches.

"That's the way it was studied that 11-year-olds did have the dose, it's the same kind of ingredient as the adults have, and it was shown to provide good protection."

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, just over 28,200 appointments had been booked for children ages five to 11 years old.

"It think it's very encouraging. This was the first day the system was open; people were ready, they made the time to go in and book appointments and they wanted it as quickly as possible," said Dr. Etches, speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon.

"This means that about a third of people's children will have the protection against transmission of COVID that even the first dose provides before the holidays."

Speaking with reporters after today's council meeting, Etches said appointments for the first few days were booked quickly.

"Having booked my two sons personally, I had to wait until Dec. 2 before I started to see quite a bit of availability coming through. I heard some people booking around Dec. 6," said Dr. Etches, adding most of the 27,000 appointments booked on the first day are in the next two weeks.

The COVID-19 vaccine for children will be available at seven community clinics, neighbourhood vaccination hubs, after school pop-up clinics, along with pharmacies and some family physicians.