Concern over Alberta lifting public health restrictions

Parents of kids too young to be vaccinated are expressing concern as the province prepares to lift restrictions on July 1.

“I have huge concerns with that,” said Wendy Pirk, a parent with an 11-year-old son. “I don’t want him to be in crowds, I don’t want him to be indoors yet until he’s vaccinated.”

Because of her concern for her son’s health, Pirk said they have been avoiding restaurants, spending time at home or outside where there aren’t large groups of people.

“We try to keep our distance from everyone else at the park,” said Pirk.

“I don’t make him wear, usually, a mask outside because it’s just not fun for them, but if the park gets too busy we go somewhere else where it’s not quite so busy or we go to the valley or just spend our time outside.”

With no vaccines approved in Canada for children under 12, one doctor said it’s up to parents to protect their children.

“Ensure that the adults around them are doubly vaccinated so fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Amy Tan, an associate clinical professor at the University of B.C. “So grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents all need to be vaccinated in order to maximally protect them.”

Tan said that children are safe to play together, but it should be done outside.

“If you wear a mask and distance and keep it outdoors the risk is quite minimal,” Tan added.

The majority of kids who get COVID-19 will experience a mild illness, but with new variants emerging, it’s hard to say what effects the virus will have on children.

“The other thing is we don’t know yet to what extent long COVID actually will affect children with mild disease,” said Tan. “We’re seeing more and more data that adults with mild disease can still get long-term consequences, organ consequences, with long COVID.

“So I think the uncertainty is still there, that we need to be cautious.”

She also added that in rare cases, even without the variants, some children were getting an inflammatory condition.

“There’s just so much we don’t know about how this virus actually affects the human body,” said Tan.

She stressed the importance to remain vigilant, but with testing underway, Tan added that approval for vaccines on children under 12 could come as soon as August or September.

“We have every reason to be optimistic that this will be approved we just have to wait for it, especially with children and developing bodies to make sure we’re very, very cautious of ensuring it’s safe,” said Tan.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson