Health Canada has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent COVID-19 vaccine for children between five and 11 years of age.
This is the first bivalent COVID-19 booster approved for use in this age group that targets the original COVID-19 variant and the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants, Health Canada said in a statement released Friday.
“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, Health Canada has determined that the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty Omicron BA.4/BA.5 bivalent-adapted booster vaccine for children 5 to 11 years of age is safe and effective and that its benefits outweigh any potential risks,” the agency said.
Health Canada previously authorized this bivalent shot in early October for individuals aged 12 and older.
“While the formulation for children 5 to 11 years of age is the same, the dose is one-third of that authorized for individuals 12 years of age and older,” the agency said.
Booster shots are designed to help people maintain their immunity over time. Health Canada notes that evidence continues to show that all mRNA COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada provide protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death.
In a statement released on Friday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said COVID-19 cases in Canada have increased in the summer months, and again in the fall.
“Consistent with other respiratory viruses, it is possible that the incidence of COVID-19 may again increase in the colder months and that new variants of concern (VOCs) may emerge,” NACI said.
According to NACI, the “proportion of Canadian children 5 to 11 years of age vaccinated with a primary series is roughly 40 per cent; however, only five per cent of children in this age group have received at least one booster dose.”