SENSE OF RELIEF: Youth COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Steinbach exceeds expectations

·4 min read

A Steinbach parent says she breathed a sigh of relief this week when she knew that her daughter would soon be vaccinated against COVID-19 because she says she has watched as some in her community have been putting children’s health at risk by not following health orders.

Steinbach resident and business owner Patti Lytwyn said that on Monday she got her nine-year-old daughter booked to go for her first COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 7, as Monday was the first-day parents in Manitoba could book children ages 5-11 for a COVID shot.

“There is a sense of relief for sure when we got booked,” Lytwyn said on Wednesday. “Living in Steinbach and in the Southern Health region where the COVID numbers are high, her only line of defence until now has been wearing her mask, and hopefully others wearing their masks.

“And there are a lot of anti-maskers out here, so it’s quite frustrating when we go out to stores and don’t always see masks. It’s hard because we know we can do the right things, but we can’t always rely on others to do the same.”

Lytwyn said despite the fact her daughter is typically afraid of needles, she is excited to get the COVID-19 shot.

“When we found out kids got approval for it she was like ‘yeah, I’m so excited,’ and I think kids are smart enough to realize that this is what is going to get us back to some sort of normalcy,” Lytwyn said.

“Kids are very smart and intuitive and they realize the importance of this. She knows this is helpful, and this is what prevents people from getting sick.”

And with her daughter attending a middle school in Steinbach, Lytwyn said she has also had some concern recently as case numbers among school children have been on the rise in the Southern Health region, but she said the local Hanover School Division has done a very good job of enforcing health mandates and doing what they can to keep children safe.

“I know that the school division has been doing their best to follow and enforce the mandates, and I’m cheering the division for what they are doing because I want the kids to wear masks if that is the only protection they have,” she said.

“And a lot of times the parents who don’t want their kids to wear the masks, I think unfortunately they make a bigger deal out of it than the kids do, but the school division has stuck to their guns despite some really trying to fight them on this.”

Lytwyn said she also wants to see her daughter get vaccinated as soon as possible because as the owner of a retail business in town, she said she knows there are some who are strongly opposed to any mask or vaccine mandates in her community, and some have even caused problems and conflict for her, and for employees who work in her business.

“It has gotten really bad in Steinbach, and we have seen a ton of conflict,” Lytwyn said. “It’s really on a daily basis, and the problem I find in this area is there are some businesses that aren’t enforcing it, so people start to think it’s OK not to wear masks.

“I don’t make the rules, but we enforce the rules and we enforce them to protect my staff and my customers, and their families and my family.”

Lytwyn did say she was happy to see initial numbers for vaccination appointments for children aged 5-11 in Steinbach have so far exceeded expectations.

According to reports, in the city of Steinbach, the province had originally allotted for an expected 1,100 pediatric appointments for vaccination appointments, but the province has already increased that number to 3,100.

"I have heard that the Steinbach uptake was greater than we were expecting and that the vaccine appointments filled up very quickly, which was really wonderful to hear," Dr. Joss Reimer, the province’s medical lead of the vaccine task force said in a Monday news conference.

Lytwyn said she is now waiting for the day when she knows the vaccine will be protecting her daughter from COVID-19, and protecting other children in the community.

“It’s just nice to see that a lot of people are doing it because they are taking their children’s health seriously, but they are also taking the health of my family and my daughter seriously, and that’s what this is all about.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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