WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government says it's ready to start immunizing five to 11-year-old children against COVID-19, following the first approval by Health Canada of a pediatric vaccine today.
The province's public health officials say pharmacists will be part of a plan to inoculate young kids as supplies make their way into Manitoba. Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine administered to children are a third the size of those given to youth and adults.
Health Canada has authorized the use of the vaccine in children under the age of 12 in the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in Canada for this age group. The Canadian government is procuring 2.9 million pediatric doses of the vaccine to be distributed to provinces and territories now that their use has been approved.
Health Canada says a thorough and independent scientific review determined the benefits of the vaccine for children aged five to 11-years-old outweigh the risks. Clinical trials showed immune response in children was similar to the response observed in those 16 to 25 years of age, with the vaccine proving 90.7 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, and no serious side effects identified.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the same vaccine for kids in late October. Health Canada’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma says so far there have been no safety issues observed in the U.S. during a rollout there that has already seen over 2.5 million children immunized against COVID-19 with Comirnaty.
Manitoba Health minister Audrey Gordon says she expects 75 per cent of parents in the province currently plan on having their children vaccinated against the virus. More than 2.1 million doses COVID-19 vaccinates have been administered to Manitobans so far, with 87.3 per cent of people 12 and up having received at least one dose, and 84.5 having received two.