NACI recommends 2 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 shot be given to youths 12 to 18

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Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now recommending two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine be used in those aged 12 to 18 years old.

The updated advisory comes weeks after Health Canada approved the vaccine for use in adolescents aged 12 to 15.

Read more: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approved for Canadians 12 and over, Health Canada says

When the vaccine was initially green-lit for use in December 2020, NACI recommended it be used in those 16 and older.

NACI said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is “safe and effective for adolescents.”

“Clinical trial evidence showed 100 per cent efficacy in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age against confirmed COVID-19 illness,” the statement read.

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In a statement Tuesday, NACI chair Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh said that “although the risk of hospitalization, admission to ICU and death associated with COVID-19 is infrequent in this age group, we have seen that adolescents can still experience severe illness.”

“The availability of this vaccine for teenagers in Canada will allow them to resume the activities that are so central to their health and well-being, including in-person schooling, events with friends and family, and extracurricular activities, in accordance with local public health measures,” she said.

NACI said the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in adolescents will “continue to be monitored in clinical trial participants and those receiving the vaccine through public health programs.”

The committee said it will also closely monitor evolving evidence and update its recommendations if necessary.

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While NACI releases recommendations, it is ultimately up to the provinces to determine how they will administer the COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more: Pfizer to seek Health Canada approval for COVID-19 vaccine use in kids 12-15 within weeks

According to Health Canada, as of May 14, 243,377 or 18.7 per cent of the country’s COVID-19 cases were detected in those 19 years of age and younger.

Those 19 and younger account for 1.7 per cent of the country’s COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

Speaking during a press conference earlier this month, Health Canada’s chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma said the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine clearly outweigh the risks.

“The safety profile of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds is similar to what we saw for older people,” she said. “That is, the most commonly reported side effects were temporary and mild, like a sore arm, chills or fever.”

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Sharma said “millions of people have received the Pfizer vaccine,” adding that “no new safety issues have been identified.”

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Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech shot is the only vaccine approved for use in adolescents. No vaccines have been approved for use in children under the age of 12.

-With files from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore

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