COVID-19 hits for school? What to do to immunize children in Canada
Parents and children who want to know when COVID-19 vaccines might be offered to Canada’s youngest people recently had a glimpse of the responses.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, Chief Medical Advisor for Health Canada, said it is “likely that Pfizer, if all the data is correct, is the first” vaccine that children and adolescents could receive.
Pfizer and BioNTech said in a Press release Wednesday that their COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, is safe with “100% proven efficacy” in preventing disease in adolescents aged 12 to 15.
The data has not been peer reviewed or reviewed by regulatory bodies like the United States Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.
In the trial of 2,260 adolescents, there were 18 cases of COVID-19 in the group who received a placebo vaccine and none among those who received the vaccine.
Side effects were similar to those reported in clinical trials in adults, such as pain at the injection site, headache, fever, and fatigue.
WATCH | Pfizer’s first vaccine data for children:
Sharma said Health Canada will review Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19[female[feminine vaccine data on younger adolescents “in a few weeks”. Full data, including on children aged 6 to 12, is expected within months.
Approvals will only come after the regulator verifies the data for safety, efficacy and quality.
Pfizer’s vaccine has been approved for people as young as 16 years old in Canada.
Dr Noni MacDonald, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax who studies vaccine safety, said Pfizer’s research was a “bridging study.”
In a transition study, researchers are testing whether immune responses based on antibodies and cells are equivalent to those seen in adults. For Pfizer, they were.
“The results are really very encouraging,” said MacDonald.
Protection for all Canadians
Modern is also conducting a clinical trial in Canada for children aged 5 to 11. The results are expected in early 2022. The company also launched a trial in children aged 6 months to under 12 in the United States in March.
Johnson & Johnson, which recently gained approval for its vaccine in adults in Canada and the United States, has expanded its Phase 2 trial for these from 12 to 17 years old and plans to include younger children.
AstraZeneca launched in similar trial in February.
But it’s only when vaccines are rolled out in the real world for children with diabetes, heart disease, and other underlying conditions that the answers about effectiveness will be clearer.
“We want to protect everyone in our community, even those who cannot be vaccinated or who will not respond to the vaccine,” MacDonald said. “To do this, we need children, we need adolescents, we need young adults, we need middle-aged adults, and we need older people.”
Alyson Kelvin, assistant professor at Dalhousie working on COVID-19 vaccines at the VIDO lab in Saskatoon, said she was excited about how vaccines could help children return to school and sports.
“Children can be infected with the virus and pass the virus on,” Kelvin said. “While we may not see clinical disease in children or the clinical disease is not as severe as in adults, it is really important that children cannot be part of the chain of transmission.
MacDonald hopes vaccines could be ready for young teens by September, in time for mass school immunization programs.