Provincial health officials are encouraging parents to get their children registered for a COVID-19 immunization, as one of the three major vaccines inches towards approval in Canada.
On Friday, the U.S. FDA granted emergency authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine to be used for children aged five to 11.
In Canada, the Pfizer vaccine has so far only earned approval for children ages 12 and up.
Health Canada is reviewing the company’s application for its pediatric vaccine, but an approval isn’t expected until at least mid-to-late November.
“It’s critically important that they go methodically through their process, but we’re getting ready to go,” B.C. health Minister Adrian Dix said.
“I encourage parents to get their children registered so they’ll be on the system and ready to go when the vaccine becomes available.”
Dr. Birinder Narang, a Metro Vancouver family physician and clinical assistant professor at UBC, said the FDA’s approval was a “great indicator” the shot was safe for children, pointing to the U.S. agency’s strong track record on vaccine safety.
“What I tell parents is I have no reason, based on my training, to think that a vaccine would be more unsafe in the five to 11 population than in the 12 to 17 population — we know that vaccines have been very safe for children,” he told Global’s Focus BC.
“What this whole process is about safety, tolerability, making sure it’s the right dose and effective. Those are the questions that once we (in Canada) have that data and that recommendation we can say that more confidently.”
Parents are still not able to actually book a vaccine appointment for children younger than 12, but can register them for when bookings open at the province’s Get Vaccinated website.
Children under the age of 12 represent about half of the remaining pool of unvaccinated people in B.C.
Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine is one-third of the strength of the dosage given to adults and teens, and in the U.S. will be given as a two-dose series, with the doses administerd three weeks apart.
–With files from Leslie Young and David Lao
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