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Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine can be given to kids as young as 12, Health Canada says

Last Updated May 5, 2021 at 2:51 pm PDT

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canada now has its first COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use in children as young as 12

Pfizer vaccine can now be used in children between the ages of 12 to 15

Health Canada says trials are underway in younger age groups

OTTAWA – The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in children between the ages of 12 and 15.

Health Canada says the updated approval is effective immediately, so if provinces choose to, they can start giving the shot to children in this 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.

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.

While Sharma says the new authorization is “good news” in the fight against COVID-19, she notes we’re not yet at the end.

Canadians are being reminded to continue following public health guidelines, and being encouraged to get vaccinated if they can.