Health Canada has approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11 in Canada.
"Today, Health Canada authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 to 11 years of age," said Health Canada in a statement. "This is the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized in Canada for use in this age group, and marks a major milestone in Canada’s fight against COVID-19."
Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam confirmed approval of the vaccine for children at a press conference Friday morning.
"Approval of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has long been anticipated," said Tam. "Today, the new lower dose pediatric formulation of the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech is being authorized by Health Canada as Canada's first COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 5-11 years."
"NACI is recommending a complete two-dose series may be offered to children in this age group who do not have contraindications to the vaccine," Tam continued.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech submitted a request for approval of its child-sized dose of the mRNA vaccine on October 18. The companies state that the results of their trials in children show comparable safety and efficacy to those recorded in a previous Pfizer-BioNTech study of the vaccine in people aged 16 to 25.
Health Canada says it will require Pfizer-BioNTech to continue to report on ongoing studies and real-world use, and to monitor for any issues related to the vaccine in children.
“Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to closely monitor the safety of this vaccine, and will take action if any safety concerns are identified,” the statement reads.
Pfizer-BioNTech has changed their formulation for the pediatric vaccine— and so new doses must be delivered to Canada before children can receive a shot.
An accelerated delivery of 2.9 million child-sized doses is expected, enough for a first dose for every child in the five to 11 age group. Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi said today that the first doses will begin to arrive in Canada on Sunday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children on October 29, and the United States has already vaccinated more than two million children.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had previously announced a federal plan to vaccinate children ages five to 11, awaiting the moment of Health Canada's approval.
Each province is also poised and ready to start administrating doses to children as soon as they receive them.
Toronto Mayor John Tory had announced a plan of his own as early as September, creating the "Vaccination Planning Group" to ready Canada's largest city to vaccinate its children.
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