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Port Coquitlam mom joins rush for shots for younger kids

Clinics are filling up with appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged five to 11 as parents scramble for shots for their kids
Boy getting his shot
MJ Gokool celebrates after getting his COVID-19 shot in Coquitlam Monday, Nov. 29, 2021

The long-awaited COVID-19 shots for younger kids have finally come to the Tri-Cities.

And one nine-year-old Port Coquitlam boy has already received his first jab.

"It wasn't painful but it hurt," said MJ Gokool, who was given a child-sized dose of Pfizer at a clinic at Douglas College in Coquitlam on Monday.

His mom, Stacey Gokool, said it was a happy "accident" that she managed to get her son in for a shot on the first day that vaccinations were made available to for five- to 11-year-old kids in B.C.

Gokool said she registered weeks ago for her son's COVID-19 shot and was told via text at 2 p.m. Monday that he was eligible for his jab.

But when she tried to find a time there were no spots available for this week.

It wasn't until she started to look for other clinics that a spot opened up at Douglas College for Monday.

"I hit that button as fast as I could and off we went."

Health Minister Adrian Dix is calling for patience as pent up demand for Pfizer shots for younger children puts strain on the system.

"We are off and running with the five-to-11 vaccination campaign and we ask people to be patient, and when their children are invited to be vaccinated to register and get an appointment." 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the same vaccine has been administered to more than three million children in the United States and there have been no safety signals as a result.

She says the vaccine will help children and families safely return to activities that benefit physical and mental health.

Gokool agreed that her family is going into Christmas much more confident with her son vaccinated with his first dose. However, they will continue to wear masks and won't be visiting relatives who have babies this holiday season.

She said MJ opted to sit on her lap while he got the shot, and he yelped when the needle went in.

It turned out everyone in the room was watching MJ — the only kid in the clinic at the time — and when he received his jab everyone joined in to celebrate the milestone.

"The whole room erupted in cheers and clapping. That was more shocking than the actual shot."

Then MJ got a cookie, a candy cane and a sticker for his bravery.

To find our more about the COVID-19 vaccination program for children aged five to 11, visit here.

— with a file from the Canadian Press