Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5-11, and doses could be ready in Alberta as early as Monday.--SUBMITTED PHOTO courtesy the American Academy of Pediatrics

By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Health Canada announced Friday the approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11. The approval comes a month after the vaccine was submitted to Health Canada for review on Oct. 18.

While certain parents may have apprehension about the pediatric vaccine, health experts say it has undergone extensive testing and is safe to administer.

“The pediatric dose of the vaccine that was approved for five- to 11-year-olds has the same active ingredient – that same mRNA – as the one given to those 12 and up, but it’s one third the dose,” Dr. Samantha Yammine, science commentator, neuroscientist and consultant for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, told the News. “Whereas (individuals age 12 and up) received a 30 microgram dose, five- to 11-year-olds receive 10 micrograms. There’s one very small change to the non-active ingredient. One of the buffers, it’s called – it’s like a salty solution that helps stabilize the vaccine when it’s in the fridge – it’s a very minor change; it’s a very safe change.”

Yammine, who is also an advisory board member for ScienceUpFirst and the founder of Science Sam Media, explained Health Canada spends approximately 1,600 hours reviewing anywhere from 34,000 to 82,000 pages of data for each vaccine submitted for review trials.

“In Phase One of the trials, they decided to move forward with the 10-microgram dose. In Phase Two and Phase Three trials, they found that this lower, 10-microgram dose was 90.7% efficacy against getting COVID with symptoms in five- to 11-year-olds,” said Yammine. “They also saw that the antibody response – the immune response – that was mounted in fully-vaccinated kids is on par with what we saw in teens and young adults even with the lower dose.”

Beyond reviewing trial data, Health Canada also speaks with independent medical experts, said Yammine.

“(Health Canada) gets all that information about the clinical trial and they also are in contact with other health regulators from around the world as they continue to have those conversations – what we call post-market monitoring … to ensure the safety (of the vaccine).”

Yammine explained there can be side effects associated with the pediatric vaccine, most commonly soreness or redness around the injection site, a low-grade fever, the feeling of malaise, aches or chills.

“Not everyone gets them,” she said. “The vaccine still works even if you don’t get those symptoms.”

Locally, social media was showing mixed reaction among parents, with some citing fears over the safety of the vaccine or their children’s reaction to getting a needle, while others were pleased with the announcement and believe it will keep children safer, particularly while attending school.

A few parents expressed to the News they would be allowing older children within this age range to make their own decision regarding vaccination.

Canada’s Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi confirmed in a Friday press conference that the first doses will begin arriving in the country on Sunday.

Alberta announced late Friday afternoon that doses for the 5-11 age group will be available next week, as early as Monday.

This item is reprinted with permission from Medicine Hat News. See article HERE.

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