Health Canada authorized the use of the highly effective mRNA vaccine for Canadian children between the ages of 12 and 17 on Friday morning.
The vaccine had only been available to those over the age of 18 so far, though the Pfizer mRNA vaccine was authorized for kids over the age of 12 back in May 2021.
In a series of tweets, the public health agency and the regulatory body said officials had reviewed the evidence submitted by Moderna for expanded authorization and found the vaccine is “safe and effective” at preventing COVID-19 in children aged 12 and up.
“Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to closely monitor the safety of this vaccine, and will take action if any safety concerns are identified,” said the agencies in a tweet.
The National Advisory Council on Immunization issued its recommendations on the best practices for vaccinating young Canadians with the Moderna vaccine, noting doses should be given four weeks apart compared to the recommended three-week interval between Pfizer doses.
Each dose of the Moderna vaccine contains 100 micrograms compared to 30 micrograms in each dose of Pfizer.
NACI wrote that as vaccination continues to rise among the eligible adult population and the highly contagious Delta variant fuels the fourth wave, the burden of infection is shifting to younger Canadians.
“The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was well tolerated in adolescents 12 to 17 years of age,” said the advisory council on Friday.
“The benefits of immunization with an mRNA vaccine for protection against COVID-19 infection and its potential complications outweigh any potential risks.”
The advisory council added that anyone who gets vaccinated and has symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath or heart palpitations afterwards should seek medical attention, due to the rare risk of myocarditis and/or pericarditis.
As of Aug. 27, 52,859,429 doses of COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada have been injected into arms, with the majority of those being doses of either Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.
The vaccines have an efficacy rate of roughly 94 to 96 per cent and so far, only a small percentage of the people infected with COVID-19 have been what are known as “breakthrough” cases, or confirmed infections in fully vaccinated individuals.
The overwhelming majority of cases are in those who are unvaccinated, and people who are not vaccinated make up the clear majority of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 as well.