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Health Canada approves first COVID-19 vaccine for children

Dose is one-third the strength of those given to people aged 12 and older.
stock child vaccination by health care worker in personal protective equipment photo
Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old Nov. 19.

Children in Canada will soon be able to receive a vaccine to protect them against COVID-19 after Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s child-sized dose for five- to 11-year-olds on Nov. 19

The vaccine, which goes by the brand name of Comirnaty, is one-third the strength of the dose given to those aged 12 and up. The second dose can be given as soon as three weeks after the first, Health Canada said, although the National Advisory Committee on Immunization suggests at least eight weeks between doses.

“Health Canada has placed terms and conditions requiring Pfizer-BioNTech to continue providing information to Health Canada on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in this younger age group,” the federal health agency said in a statement announcing the approval.

It said clinical trials showed that a week after receiving a second dose, the Comirnaty vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective for those five to 11 years old, compared to 95 per cent for those 16 years and older, and 100 per cent for 12- to 15-year-olds.

The news of a vaccine for children will be a relief for many parents of school-aged children, many of whom have been required to wear masks inside classrooms for the entire time schools have been open since the pandemic hit in early 2020.

Pfizer and BioNTech sought Canadian approval for their vaccine for children on Oct. 18, while rival pharmaceutical company Moderna filed for a six- to 11-year-old approval earlier last week.