VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Kids aged 12 and up in B.C. could receive COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the school year.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province is working on integrating kids in that age group into the vaccine rollout. This follows Health Canada’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 12 and up.
Henry says adding 12 to 17-year-olds to the province’s vaccine rollout means another nearly 300,000 people needing doses. But she thinks the deadline will remain on track.
“We should be able to fit this into our program and still reach that goal of having at least a first dose into the entire population by the end of June,” she said, adding it’s a large cohort, but manageable.
“We’ll be balancing it with the second doses,” she said. “But 300,000 people is a week’s worth of vaccine right now. So, that’s the good news. We just need to figure out how to do that and maximize the protection as soon as we possibly can.”
How and where these doses will be administered is being worked out, with the possibility of vaccination clinics running at schools. Henry says that kind of program is efficient and has been used for other kinds of vaccinations in the past.
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) May 5, 2021
As we work toward herd immunity, Henry says this is a “bonus.”
“We will be able to reach a level of low level of transmission, once we get about 75 to 80 per cent of the 18 and above population. That’s what we’re aiming for … when we’ll add this in, it’s essentially a bonus,” she said.
Health Canada’s approval came earlier Wednesday, saying it is effective immediately. if provinces choose to, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine could begin to be administered to children in the approved age group right away.
“While younger people are less likely to experience serious cases of COVID-19, having access to a safe and effective vaccine will help control the disease’s spread to their families and friends, some of whom may be at higher risk of complications,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, said Wednesday.
“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,” she added.
Dr. Supriya Sharma says the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 years olds was 100% #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) May 5, 2021
The drugmaker is expected to provide additional information of the vaccine’s safety, efficacy, and quality to Health Canada as part of conditions in the agency’s interim order.
Sharma says data from trials in children between 12 and 15 has shown that, after the second dose, Pfizer’s vaccine was 100 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19.
“In the group that did not receive the vaccine, there were 18 cases of COVID-19, and in the group that received the vaccine, there were zero,” Sharma explained, adding there were 1,000 participants in each group.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, about 20 per cent of COVID-19 cases have been reported in people under the age of 19, she adds.
Trials are underway by Pfizer and other drugmakers for other age groups, including children as young as six months. More expansion for eligibility could come as early as the fall.
-With files from Cormac Mac Sweeney and Hana Mae Nassar