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Nova Scotia parents hopeful COVID-19 vaccine for children will be available soon

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Nova Scotia parents hopeful COVID-19 vaccine for children will be available soon
WATCH: Nova Scotia parents are hopeful the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 11 will be available soon – Nov 10, 2021

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Nova Scotia, the majority of new cases continue to be among the unvaccinated.

Many parents of children under the age of 11 are concerned, since their kids aren’t eligible for a vaccine yet.

Health Canada received the submission from Pfizer-BioNTech for its Comirnaty vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 on Oct. 18 and it is currently under review for approval.

The pending approval gives parents like Martha Walls hope that this might signal a turning point in the pandemic – it’s been 365 days since her eight-year-old daughter Quinn, who is immunocompromised, has been able to attend school in person.

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In the past, the common cold and flu virus has put her daughter in hospital and on a ventilator, so the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a great danger to her daughter’s well-being.

“We have really been avoiding all kinds of social, public settings, even family get-togethers and that sort of thing,” said Walls. “We’ve just been really watching her closely and doing all we can to avoid this virus.”

There are 68,000 children in the 5-to-11 age group who will become eligible for the vaccine in Nova Scotia once it’s approved.

Click to play video: 'Preparing young children to receive COVID-19 vaccines'
Preparing young children to receive COVID-19 vaccines

Richard MacLellan’s son Ryan is 10 years old. He’s eager to see Health Canada approve a vaccine and says it could mark the final piece of the pandemic puzzle. The vaccine, he says, can’t come soon enough.

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“Once we get our youngest kids vaccinated we can really feel much safer and feel safe to fully participate in the community, in society and in sports and in school, it will be a big relief,” said MacLellan.

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The fourth wave of COVID-19 has been described by Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang as the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Between March 15 and Nov. 3, the province reported 5,833 new cases of COVID-19 with 87 per cent of those cases (5,056) being reported among unvaccinated individuals.

As the regulator, Health Canada is in the process of completing a rigorous review of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine submission, which is being prioritized.

“They will look at every piece of evidence related to studies of the product in humans, particularly in this case in children, but also they’ll look at the plant where the product is made and does it follow good manufacturing standards,” said Dr. Joanne Langley, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the IWK Hospital.

“The overall goal is to make sure every piece of evidence supports the balance of this being a safe and effective vaccine over any potential harm.”

During a recent COVID-19 media briefing, Dr. Strang anticipated Health Canada approval for the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine could happen before the new year.

That’s creating some excitement for Walls and her daughter.

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“To be honest it’s very exciting for us. I tear up every time I hear it because I can’t believe the time is almost upon us, that we’re that close,” said Walls. “We’re really looking forward to this vaccine because for us, it’s really a passport to allow Quinn to get back to school and back to social activities and spending time with friends and family.”

Pharmacies across Nova Scotia will continue to deliver all COVID-19 vaccines, although further details will need to be finalized when the children’s vaccine approval process is complete, the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia and its pharmacists say they’ll be able to manage the task.

“We’re still doing adult COVID vaccinations and we’re still doing flu shot vaccinations, and to add in more booster vaccinations added on top of that plus adding the pediatric vaccinations is certainly a lot,” said Jamie Flynn, pharmacist and owner of The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Clayton Park. “It will certainly make this more challenging but we’ve certainly been able to do our best with it so far.”

At last count, 1,111 children under the age of 11 have contracted the COVID-19 virus in Nova Scotia with fewer than five being hospitalized.

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