Children’s Hospital and MLHU make COVID-19 vaccination more accessible to youth with differing needs and abilities

CH COVID-19 vaccination

With support from staff at the Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic, 13-year-old Emily Phillips overcame her fear of needles to be successfully vaccinated against COVID-19.

September 7, 2021

Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) have partnered to make COVID-19 vaccination more accessible to youth, including those who have differing needs and abilities. On Tuesday, August 10, a new kind of COVID-19 vaccination clinic was launched at Children’s Hospital. The clinic operates on Tuesday evenings by appointment only. It offers vaccination to all youth between the ages of 12 and 17, and provides extra support to youth who have needle anxiety, general anxiety, behavioural needs or sensory needs. 

For 13-year-old Emily Phillips, support from staff at the Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic helped her overcome her fear of needles to be successfully vaccinated.

“These amazing people made me feel so safe and in control. They listened to all of my fears and concerns, and worked with me to find strategies to get through them” says Emily. “They waited until I was ready and gave consent and that made this by far the best experience I have ever had while getting a needle, and it made me feel just a little less scared. I 100 per cent recommend this clinic for anyone scared of needles."

Emily was one of the first youth to be vaccinated at the clinic.

“It’s natural for youth and adults to experience some worry about needles. Some may also find mass vaccination clinics overwhelming due to the busy environment. For youth with differing needs and abilities, accommodations can help ease the vaccination experience,” says Julie Manning, Director, COVID-19 Vaccination Centre, LHSC.

Staff at the Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic work with youth and families to support their unique needs. Serving 16 clients per evening, the clinic is staffed by paediatric nurses and child life specialists. It allows extra time for youth with behavioural needs to be vaccinated and provides a low-stimulation and private environment for those with sensory needs.

The clinic also offers tools to assist in developing a coping plan to ease anxiety. These coping plans can be completed in advance and brought to the appointment. The vaccination team uses these plans to help make the experience as personalized and positive as possible. Youth and families can also request a pre-appointment phone call with the team for support in developing a plan and for answers to any questions they may have.

“Having a plan in advance can help youth feel more in control and ensure that any questions they have around vaccination are answered ahead of time,” notes Manning. “By planning ahead and offering a comfortable environment, we hope to make vaccination more accessible to youth and families who have particular needs.”

Other accommodations are also offered at mass vaccination clinics in the London and Middlesex region. Earlier this summer, LHSC and MLHU launched a parking lot vaccination program. Developed in partnership with Autism Ontario London, the program accommodates youth and adults who may benefit from being vaccinated in the familiar environment of their family vehicle, including those with autism spectrum disorder. MLHU also offers accessible indoor spaces at mass vaccination clinics, providing a variety of accommodation options.

“We appreciate that there are differing needs and abilities in every community. What works for one person may not work for the next,” says Tracey Gordon, Program Manager at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “By offering a range of accommodations, we hope to personalize the vaccination experience to the needs of the client.”

All youth who will be turning 12 years old in 2021 and older youth are eligible to book a first dose appointment. To book a first or second dose appointment for the Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic:

  • Visit www.covidvaccinelm.ca
    - Enter Gate #2 (select “I attest that I am over 12 years of age or am turning 12 years old in 2021.”), then select The Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic 
  • Call 226-289-3560 (8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday to Sunday)
    - Please notify the booking agent if you wish to book at the Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. 

If you're interested in more information about accommodations at a mass vaccination clinic in London or Middlesex County, please call 226-289-3560 and speak with one of our booking agents.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccination, including a list of upcoming walk-in Pop-Up COVID-19 vaccination clinics, in London and Middlesex County, visit www.healthunit.com/covid-19-vaccine