An order of 112,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses specially designed for the five to 11 age group are anticipated to be received in the province in mid-November.
The SHA hopes to administer first doses to children in mid-November to December and second doses early in the new year.
According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), plans are being worked on to ensure vaccine deliveries for the age group will be available as soon as it receives approval from Health Canada.
“Our intent is to provide the vaccine to all kids who would like to receive it from five to 11 in this province in a safe, supportive and efficient manner,” stated Dr. Tania Diener on Tuesday, who serves as both the medical health officer responsible for immunization and physician co-lead of the SHA’s COVID-19 immunization campaign.
Last week, it was announced by Prime Minister Trudeau that Canada will receive 2.9 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to help vaccinate five to 11 year olds once it’s approved by Health Canada.
Pfizer submitted initial trial data to Health Canada for its COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 earlier in October.
The company then presented a formal application to Health Canada saying its clinical trials showed an immune response comparable to that observed in children over the age of 12, for whom its vaccine is already approved.
Diener said Pfizer’s vaccine studies showed that expected vaccine side effects — such as soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and chills — were well tolerated and resolved in one to two days.
She also indicated that children in this age group recorded “very good” immune responses when they receive the recommended two doses 21 days apart.
“In looking at vaccine efficacy seven days after the second dose, they came up with a 90.7 per cent vaccine efficacy.”
There are some differences with this version of the vaccine compared to what is given to people 12 and over.
Diener explained how it will be a slightly smaller dose given to children five to 11 at 0.2 ml compared to the standard 0.3 ml for older age categories.
She added that Pfizer has changed the stabilizer in the vaccine meaning doses will last longer when stored in fridges.
“Although children for the most part are at lower risk of getting seriously ill, they can still be hospitalized, they can still suffer from serious complications and kids have died in Canada due to COVID-19 — especially those kids with underlying conditions,” Diener noted.
In Saskatchewan, Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine will be made available at multiple locations, including participating pharmacies, SHA walk-in clinics, mobile clinics, at schools and at venues with easy community access near schools.
Diener shared that about 190 clinics will be offering the pediatric vaccine in more than 100 communities. There will be dedicated pediatric clinics focused on five to 11 year olds, but Diener said teams are in the process of designing what the pediatric clinic flow would look like.
The medical health officer also mentioned that required consent forms will need to be signed by a parent or guardian prior to their child’s COVID-19 immunization.
Logistics teams are also looking for ways to accommodate enough space in the vaccination area so family members can be present with their child when they receive their shot.
“We’ll ensure mom, dad or others can give a hug to the kids to support them, and we will make sure those clinic visits are a bit longer,” said Sheila Anderson, who serves as the vaccine chief responsible for the SHA’s immunization campaign. “We’re really hoping our kids can have the best experience possible.”
No plans are being determined for sequencing among five to 11 year olds like the government established for delivering vaccines to older populations, but Diener said if there is a concern with supply, then they will explore sequencing options.