Health Canada has approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 in Canada.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech submitted a request for approval of a child-sized dose of its mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 on October 18.
The companies say the results of their trials in children show comparable safety and efficacy to those recorded in a previous Pfizer-BioNTech study in people aged 16 to 25.
“This is very good news for adults and children alike,” said Dr. Supriya Sharma, a senior medical advisor with Health Canada. “It provides another tool to protect Canadians, and to the relief of many parents, will help bring back a degree of normality to children’s lives, allowing them to more safely do the things that they have missed during the last 20 months.”
One week after the second dose, clinical trials showed it was 90.7 percent effective for children in that age group. By comparison, the MMR vaccine is 88 percent effective against mumps, 97 percent against measles, and 97 percent against rubella.
According to Sharma, some of the side effects reported included redness and swelling at the injection site, headaches and fatigue. Most of the side effects were mild to moderate and resolved quickly on their own.
Out of the 3,100 children vaccinated, four serious adverse events were reported, but they were later determined not to be related to the vaccine. There were no reports of myocarditis, pericarditis or serious allergic reactions.
“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the Department has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years of age outweigh the risks,” Health Canada wrote in a press release.
Full vaccination requires two doses given three weeks apart. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is recommending an interval of eight weeks between doses.
“Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to monitor the safety of this vaccine closely, and will take action if any safety concerns are identified,” the statement read.
Canada is expecting an accelerated delivery of 2.9 million doses, enough for every child in the 5-11 age group to get their first dose.
In anticipation of Health Canada’s approval, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer, Dr. David Colby, said he hoped to be able to start administering shots to kids locally by the end of the month.
According to the Statistics Canada Census, which was last updated in April 2017, the municipality of Chatham-Kent has 5,645 children aged five to nine. There are an additional 5,760 children aged 10-14. The total population of Chatham-kent is 104,771.
As of November 19, in Chatham-Kent, 83 percent of the population aged 12 and older have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine for children was approved in the US on October 29, with more than two million doses administered south of the border so far.
Health Canada is also currently reviewing an application from Moderna to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six to 11.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News