Has your young child recently received a flu shot? Their COVID-19 vaccine may have to wait

Parents looking to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19 may be surprised to learn that children ages five to 11 will have to wait if they’ve also received a flu shot in the past two weeks.

It’s a detail that has been quietly added to the federal government’s childhood vaccination information page and the Ottawa Public Health website.

According to the federal government’s site, “if possible, children should not receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine within 14 days of other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.”

It is a precautionary measure to monitor for any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, the government said. The same precaution does not apply to individuals aged 12 to 17.

Ontario’s Department of Health is following the guidelines of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, spokesman Bill Campbell said in a statement to CBC.

“Individuals who wish to receive two different vaccines within the 14-day interval may do so with informed consent,” Campbell wrote.

However, OPH says on its site that it “will not administer the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages five to 11 at the same time as other vaccines.”

“This means that when your child gets their COVID-19 vaccine, they won’t get other vaccines at the same time,” it said.

OPH did not say how it otherwise shared this information with parents, only referring to the FAQ section on its website.

Information remained silent, says parent

Some parents CBC spoke to said that when they made vaccine appointments through the Ontario booking portal, there was no information that five- to 11-year-olds had to wait two weeks between a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’ll go home and find out when her flu vaccine was and then reschedule, I guess,” said Naomi Klassen, whose six-year-old recently got her flu shot.

Klassen said she also booked her a COVID-19 vaccination this weekend, without being aware of public health guidelines.

While parent Kelly Gauthier was informed, she said the directive “has not been released as freely” [as other] information has been released.”

Doug Wilkinson said he and his wife waited to book their 11-year-old daughter Mabel’s flu shot knowing they would then be waiting two weeks for a COVID-19 vaccination.

“We’re prioritizing the COVID shot and then getting the flu shot,” Wilkinson said.

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