The Pfizer-BioNTec COVID-19 vaccine has its nod of approval from Health Canada for children 12 to 15 years old.
The news comes after Pfizer vaccine had been approved back in December for those ages 16 and up. Health Canada received an application to expand the age group from Pfizer back on April 16.
No cases of COVID-19 among vaccinated kids were reported in a trial of more than 2,200 youth in that age group in the United States. The same size doses and same two-dose requirement for adults was used in the trial.
Health Canada’s chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma said the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine was 100 per cent for the age group.
The first vaccine approved for use in children in Canada is available immediately. Sharma called it a significant step forward in the fight against COVID-19 with one-fifth of all cases here having occurred in children and teenagers.
While most don’t experience serious illness, Sharma said protecting them with a vaccine also helps protect their friends and family who 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.
Health Canada’s chief medical advisor notes that trials are already underway from numerous drug-makers to have COVID-19 vaccines approved for children as young as six months.
Expected data on trials for children between two and 11 years old, says Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, should be available in time to apply for authorization in the United States in September.
The Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds should be authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next week.
“Today’s expansion of our authorization represents a significant step forward in helping the Canadian government broaden its vaccine program and begin to protect adolescents before the start of the next school year,” said Fabian Paquette, Vaccines Lead, Pfizer Canada.
“We are proud that we are playing a part of the efforts to help protect adolescent Canadians in this devastating pandemic.”
Over a third of Canadians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- With files from Canadian Press