TORONTO -- Ontario families can now book COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children aged five to 11-years-old. While appointments may be available and children eligible to receive the shot as early as Thursday, fears surrounding needles can operate as barriers to kids receiving their vaccinations.

To combat these fears, vaccine clinics all over Toronto are attempting to make the experience of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine dose a bit more fun for young children.

One Toronto hospital has even set up a special “kids’ zone” to alleviate anxiety surrounding vaccines.

“It's a dedicated space that’s kid-friendly,” Upasana Saha, director of integrated health systems and partnerships at Humber River Hospital (HRH), told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday.

“They have projectors playing kid movies like Frozen,” she said. “It's a little bit more fun.”

The kids’ zone also separates the children’s administration sites from the adults, so that kids don’t have to watch adult strangers receive their vaccines. Of course, parents and guardians can accompany their children into the kids’ zone.

“It's a more private space so that the kids are separated from the adults that are getting the vaccine — that's also to lower some of the anxieties that they may have about getting the vaccine,” Saha said.

HOW TO TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT VACCINES

The hospital has also prepared a document recommending a few things that can help prepare your child for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“You know your child best, so please do and say what you know will help your child keep calm and help them through this,” the hospital says.

They say it is important to communicate to your child where they are going when you head off to the clinic and what they can expect when they get there.

“Validate your child’s thoughts, feelings and emotions,” the hospital says on their website. It also advises communicating to your child that the procedure will only last three to five seconds.

Avoid the words “shot” or “needle,” says the hospital, and, instead, opt for non-threatening language such as “vaccination.”

Lastly, the hospital recommends planning something fun for you and your child to do after they’ve received their vaccination.

TORONTO HOPES TO MAKE KIDS FEEL LIKE SUPERHEROES

The City of Toronto wants kids to feel like superheroes when it’s their time to roll up their sleeves and get a vaccination.

Children showing up to a city-run clinic will follow “animal print footsteps” on the floor, which will guide them through the clinic.

“As part of this kid-friendly approach, five to 11-year-olds will be greeted with a superhero vaccine clinic “passport” upon their arrival at the City’s vaccination clinics,” a statement released by the city says.

City-run clinics will also give away free stickers, hand out free colouring sheets and offer children the chance to have their pictures taken at “superhero selfie stations.”

A spokesperson for Toronto Public Health told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday that "clinic flow has been modified to allow for more time with each child and family at the vaccine station" and that "each clinic also has quiet, low-stimulation rooms available upon request."

Toronto City Councillor and Chair of Toronto's Board of Health Joe Cressy wants kids to feel special when its their time to get their vaccine.

“Kids across Toronto will have a chance to roll up their sleeves and be a real superhero," Cressy said in a statement issued by the city.

"We've learned an important lesson about fun," he said. "We've helped millions of Torontonians get their shots with DJs, live music, even events that set world records.”

“Getting a vaccine is an act of civic duty, it's about protecting yourself and your city—but it should also be a celebration. It should be fun." 

Appointments are now available to be booked at the following Team Toronto Kids clinics: 

  • Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W., North Building, Hall A
  • Cloverdale Mall, 250 The East Mall
  • Scarborough Town Centre, 300 Borough Dr.
  • Mitchell Field Community Centre, 89 Church Ave.
  • Woodbine Mall, 500 Rexdale Blvd.