Canada approves Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11

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Canada’s health regulator on Friday approved Pfizer’s child-sized COVID-19 shot and announced it would allow Canadians returning from short trips to access a faster, less expensive test for the coronavirus .

Health Canada authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11. And as in the US, the dosage would be just a third of the amount given to teens and adults.

But Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has suggested that the country’s provinces, which administer health care in the country, give two doses at least eight weeks apart.

In the US, children ages 5 to 11 get two reduced doses., except for three weeks, the same schedule as everyone else in the US. Canada had problems getting the vaccine into the country earlier this year and delayed a second dose for adults until more supplies arrived, but Canadian officials say delaying a second dose provides better protection.

“A longer interval between doses leads to stronger immunity,” said Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy public health officer.

The government agency said the vaccine is 90.7% effective in preventing Covid-19 in children and no serious side effects have been identified.

“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children 5 to 11 years of age outweigh the risks,” Health Canada said in a statement.

The agency also said that Canada and permanent residents returning from the US or other countries after traveling for less than 72 hours are no longer required to show a negative PCR test upon return. A rapid antigen test from November 30 will suffice.

Read also | Pfizer agrees to manufacture and sell its COVID-19 pill in 95 countries

PCR testing will be required after long trips and for fully vaccinated travelers from the US or other countries, although Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said officials would soon provide an update for Americans.

“It’s so important. I’m glad they’re taking it easy,” said Sandy Pearce, who lives in Fort Erie, Ontario, and travels more easily to New York State to help her parents. Wants those who are in their 90s.

“They need help and now I can go for a day trip or even for a few hours,” she said, adding, “It’s also a tremendous boost to the American economy, especially For holiday shopping.”

While PCR tests are more sensitive, experts say antigen tests are highly effective in detecting infectious levels of the virus, are much cheaper and do not require waiting which can sometimes extend to days.

In the US, the White House said on Wednesday that nearly 10% of eligible children aged 5 to 11 have received a single dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since US approval for their age group two weeks ago.

At least 2.6 million children have received a shot, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Ziants said on Wednesday, with 1.7 million doses given in the past week alone, nearly double the pace in the first week after approval.

Read also | Covaxin gets emergency use approval for children ages 2-18

Canada is hoping for quick delivery of doses the size of 2.9 million babies, enough for the first shot for every child aged 5 to 11. Pfizer said in a statement Friday that the vaccines would be shipped to Canada “soon.”

Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the Sinai-University Health Network, said delaying the second dose for eight weeks would probably mean a lower myocarditis risk and theoretically a better immune boost. Is. , There are extremely rare side effects, including myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation that sometimes occurs after a second dose, he said.

The Canadian government has also announced that from January 15, professional and amateur athletes traveling to Canada must be fully vaccinated. Major League Baseball (NBA) obtained national exemptions for teams that were not vaccinated.