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Moderna seeks Health Canada OK for kids’ COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna submitted a request to Health Canada Nov 16 for approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six to 11 years old.
stock photo of young child getting vaccination bandage
Children in the United States are already receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

Health Canada has a second COVID-19 vaccine for children to consider approving, with Moderna adding its request Nov. 16.

The federal agency had not approved any vaccines for use by those younger than 12 in Canada at the time Moderna made its application, though the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for five- to 11-year-olds three days later, on Nov, 19. In the United States the White House said the previous week that about 900,000 children aged five to 11 were vaccinated in the first week after Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty dose was cleared for use.

Health Canada said it received the application from Moderna for its Spikevax (for children aged six to 11) Nov. 16 and would only authorize its pediatric use “if its independent and thorough scientific review of the data in the submission shows that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks in this age group.”

Both of the brands’ inoculations are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, which teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response to COVID-19 inside our bodies. They are the first commercial applications of a technology developed over decades.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use by five- to 11-year-olds in late October and the Centers for Disease Control gave final approval on Nov. 2.

But Health Canada said Nov. 12 it would still need another week or two to consider the submission it received on Oct. 18.

Just over half of Canadian parents plan to immediately vaccinate their kids when a pediatric dose becomes available, according to a recent Angus Reid poll, while 23 per cent said they would never give their kids a COVID-19 vaccine, and 18 per cent said they would wait.

The national rate of vaccine hesitancy was pulled higher due to 30 per cent of parents in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Quebec saying they're not planning to vaccinate their children. Around 15 per cent of parents would decline it in Ontario, British Columbia, and Atlantic Canada.

Older children in Canada have been eligible to get the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines since the summer holidays, leaving under-12s as the demographic most exposed to COVID-19 as colder weather brings more of our lives indoors.

Younger people are less likely to require hospitalization due to COVID-19, but several thousand young people have been admitted over the course of the pandemic in Canada.