Rose Gervan says she’d been looking forward to her senior year in high school ever since she was little.
She liked the thought of hanging out with all her friends and taking part in traditions of the graduating class. “I thought I’d have the most friends and do the most socializing in my Grade 12 year, and it’s been the absolute opposite,” she said.
The pandemic put the brakes on much of the fun for teens and even a regular classroom routine for this school year. “I’m a social butterfly. So it’s been hard for me,” said Gervan.
Gervan said it’s also been unnerving having classmates who contracted COVID or had to isolate because they were close contacts.
So when she was offered the chance to get the vaccine recently, she jumped at the chance.
As a restaurant worker, Gervan, 17, said she was able to book and receive a shot about a week ago. It was exciting and scary at the same time, she said – especially as needles aren’t her favourite things.
Starting this week, she’ll likely have a lot of company among her classmates on the North Shore.
12 - 17 year-olds can now book vaccine appointments
On Thursday, the government announced vaccine appointments can now be booked for teens aged 12 to 17 at regular vaccination clinics. Parents can register on the government site and either book regular appointments for their teens or take them along to a parent’s vaccination appointment.
Teens can also book appointments themselves, without their parents’ consent.
Parents on a local Facebook page where North Shore families swap information about school COVID exposures, testing and vaccines reacted with excitement to the news this week, reporting in on getting appointments for their kids.
“People are excited,” said West Vancouver mom Coralynn Gehl who runs the Facebook page. Gehl said parents are relieved that if their kids get vaccinated, the likelihood of them getting seriously ill is much less.
Teens see vaccines as path to 'getting their lives back'
Paving the way to allowing kids to take part in normal activities is also key, she said.
“My 13 year old would walk down to that centre and put that needle in himself if it meant he could go to summer camps, and he can have sleep overs again,” she said. “And he can do the things he hasn't been able to do for the last two years.”
The news comes as both COVID cases in the general population and exposures in schools have fallen dramatically on the North Shore in the last month.
Only a handful of COVID exposure notices have gone out this month on the North Shore, a sharp contrast to April when there were over 100.
For Rob Spurgeon, a West Vancouver dad whose 13-year-old daughter attends Mulgrave private school, the news that teens can be vaccinated is a welcome relief.
“I’m thrilled,” he said, noting his daughter has missed two weeks of classroom time this year when the family decided to be cautious following COVID exposures at her school.
Some question why vaccinations won't be done in schools
Spurgeon said while he’s happy teens are now included in the vaccine rollout, he questions why the vaccinations aren’t being done at schools. “Now we have to shuttle our kids to a vaccination centre,” he said.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Thursday the province decided it made more sense to include the teens in the already-functioning clinics than set up a separate system that would have to deliver vaccines to hundreds of schools.
Overall, the news is good, said Spurgeon. “I just want to hit herd immunity so we can get on with our lives.”