Health Canada announced on Wednesday it has authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, making Canada te first country to do so for that age group.
“After completing a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department determined that this vaccine is safe and effective when used in this younger age group,” said Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma, reports CTV News Canada.
Health Canada is advising that children 12 years of age or older, be given the same dose regimen as adults getting the Pfizer vaccine. CNN is reporting that further guidance on when and how to begin distributing the vaccine to children will be determined by the Public Health Agency of Canada and individual provinces and territories.
Canada has recorded 1,258,449 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and of that total, about 20 percent of those cases have been in people under the age of 19, according to the BBC.
As part of the approval, Pfizer will have to continue to provide information to Canada’s health ministry on the safety, efficacy, and quality of the vaccine in the 12 to 15 age group.
Pfizer is just one of a number of coronavirus vaccine makers testing the COVID-19 vaccine on children. Moderna and Johnson&Johnson are currently testing their vaccines on children aged 12-18 with Moderna’s data expected soon.
“While younger people are less likely to experience serious cases of COVID-19, having access to a safe and effective vaccine will help control the disease’s spread to their family and friends, some of whom may be at higher risk of complications. It will also support the return to a more normal life for our children who have had such a hard time over the past year,” Sharma said.
Dr. Sharma also told reporters on Wednesday that there are some “high-risk” children who have received the vaccine. “There are some provinces that have already provided some vaccine to this age group, if they were children that were at high risk. That was done off label, which is absolutely within their purview, so we do have some children in Canada that have already received a vaccine dose,” Sharma said.