Canada approves Pfizer-BioNTech jab for kids starting at age five

The vaccine is 90.7 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 in kids with no serious side effects, Health Canada said.

A child reacts while receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in Louisville, Kentucky, US on November 8. Canada approved the vaccine for children aged five to 11 on Friday [File: Jon Cherry/Reuters]

Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11.

It’s the first jab to be approved for kids in that age group, Health Canada said on Friday, calling the move “a major milestone” in the fight against COVID-19.

The vaccine was 90.7 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 in children five to 11 years of age, Health Canada said, and no serious side effects were identified.

“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 said in a statement.

Kids in Canada will receive two doses of the vaccine, at 10 micrograms each, to be taken three weeks apart. That is a lower dose than the 30 micrograms two-dose regimen authorised for people 12 years of age and older.

“To date, no serious safety concerns have been identified in the clinical trials,” Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Theresa Tam told a briefing on Friday. “Nationally, daily case counts are declining slowly.”

Children should wait 14 days before or after receiving another vaccine before taking the coronavirus jab, Tam said, so regulators can better track potential side effects.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was first authorised for people 16 years of age and older in Canada on December 9, 2020. It was approved for children 12 to 15 years of age on May 5, 2021.

Canada’s vaccination campaign for children is expected to begin this month, Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Toronto who has advised Canada’s government on coronavirus policy, said on Twitter.

The US approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids aged five to eleven late last month. More than 2.5 million US children have received their first dose.

While all children are capable of getting the virus that causes COVID-19, they often don’t become as sick as adults, according to the Mayo Clinic, a US medical centre.

Some children do, however, become seriously ill from COVID-19, the clinic reported, and they can easily spread it to their friends and family members.

On average, Canada is seeing about 2,400 new daily coronavirus cases, Howard Njoo, the country’s deputy chief public health officer, told reporters on Friday.

About 1,680 Canadians have been hospitalised daily with COVID-19 in recent weeks, he added, with significant variation between regions.

More than 75 percent of Canadians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Our World in Data, a tracking group based at Oxford University.

Source: Al Jazeera