Provinces hire therapy dogs to help children get COVID-19 vaccines

Kids support them Vaccines against covid-19 in Quebec last Friday, was surprised to see not only the promise of a sticker at the end of the challenge, but also a bobtail dog eager to be petted and capable of allaying his fears. them about injections.


At least three provinces have been recruiting therapy dogs to help calm children and adults who have been worried about getting needles at vaccination clinics for months. Now specially trained canines are being enlisted to help develop the vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old.

In Montreal on Friday, therapy dogs were on hand to comfort some of the first children under 12 to get their shots after a vaccine for the younger age group was approved.

Animal therapists in Quebec are now considering sending their dogs to school as the trend of vaccinating children increases.

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In Saskatoon, therapy dogs are also being recruited to help remove stings from children’s COVID-19 stab wounds.

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Children and adults afraid of needles or worried about injections that protect against COVID-19, have turned to therapy dogs for anxiety relief for months at several vaccination centers in Saskatchewan, Quebec and British Columbia.

In BC, St. John Ambulance brought their therapy dogs into the Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Penticton and Trail.

Francoise Callamand-Mayer, an animal therapist from Montreal, was with Indiana, a 7-year-old retriever/Bernese mountain dog mix, at a clinic where some of the first children were as young as 5 years old. or older are being vaccinated against the virus.

“I see some kids getting scared but my dog ​​Indiana, a big girl, always helps,” she said. “Some people cried really hard, but they were able to pet the dog and it was truly magical. Within minutes they were touching the dog and they stopped crying.”

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The first children in New Brunswick were vaccinated with COVID.

The first children in New Brunswick were vaccinated with COVID.

She plans to bring Indiana and her three-year-old rooster Petit Jones to schools and clinics so the kids can pet them while they get their shots. They can also sit on someone else’s lap or lie down next to them if they’re especially nervous.

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She said parents have reached out to her to see if one of her dogs can accompany their child to the vaccination center, and Quebec schools have also reached out.

Animal therapists say the dogs have a profoundly reassuring effect and have prevented some people with acute needle phobia from fainting in clinics.

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BC to start immunizing 5 to 11 year olds against COVID next week

Colleen Dell, a canine therapist at the University of Saskatchewan, took her trained therapy dog ​​Anna-Belle to clinics in Saskatoon and observed the effects.

The professor said the white bulldog sat on a chair next to the vaccinated people so they could pet him, which significantly reduced anxiety.

Dell says “the more work a person does before getting the needle, the more likely they are to perceive the needle experience as painful.”

Click to play video:'Manitoba children get shot for COVID-19'

Manitoba children are vaccinated with COVID-19

Manitoba children are vaccinated with COVID-19

For this reason, therapy dogs accompany people during injections and while they wait in line.

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Dell said dog therapists have been working with Saskatchewan health authorities as the child-focused vaccination process is accelerating in that province.

“Making the needle collection experience as positive as possible for both children and adults is important because it shapes how they feel when they come back for a second time,” she says.

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Dell says dogs help transform “a traumatic situation for some people into a tolerable situation.” Therapy dogs also provide an alternative for people who may have to resort to anti-anxiety medication, she adds.

“Needle procrastination is a far more widespread and pervasive problem than just our COVID vaccination clinics,” said Dell. “Most of the reactions to it that I know of are medicalized, like taking a pill to calm down. Therapy dogs are a new option for comfort, support and a distraction to experience. ”

Research shows that petting a dog releases the hormone oxytocin and lowers the stress hormone cortisol so that “patients feel comforted and supported at a time when they feel most vulnerable,” says Dell.

Callamand-Mayer said the impact of her dogs has been profound for some people who are afraid of needles when injecting COVID-19.

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“One woman said, ‘I always faint when I get vaccinated,’ ‘ the therapist said of a recent interaction with a vaccine recipient. “She said she was going to faint and I put the dog on top of her on the bed and she didn’t. It’s really unbelievable. She couldn’t believe it.”

© 2021 Canadian Press Provinces hire therapy dogs to help children get COVID-19 vaccines


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