What we know about COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12

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Just over 14% of all schools in Ontario have reported cases of COVID-19 since classes resumed in September, with a total of 2,963 laboratory-confirmed cases involving students.

While co-hosting, masking and physical distancing is proven to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus and its variants, COVID-19 vaccines are the best defense against it. Vaccination rates have steadily increased among adults and youth over 12 years of age in Ontario, allowing the province to completely lift capacity limits in a number of indoor settings where the risk of transmission would normally be high, but when can children under 12 receive the vaccine, and what will it look like?

Here’s what we know so far.

Who tests vaccines for children under 12?

Pfizer and Moderna, whose vaccines are the only vaccines approved by Health Canada for use in children 12 to 17, are testing COVID-19 vaccines in children under 12, although Pfizer’s clinical trial is more advanced. The company submitted preliminary data from its three-phase trial in children to Health Canada earlier this fall. Currently, no vaccine has been approved by Health Canada for use in children under 12 years of age.

What does the data show?

Pfizer’s three-phase trial enrolled up to 4,500 children aged six months to 11 years in the United States, Finland, Poland and Spain. During the last two stages of the trial, the company tested two strengths of its vaccine, also known by its brand name, Comirnaty, 21 days apart in three age groups: six months to two years, two to five years and five to 11 years.

Children under five received two doses of three micrograms each, while those five to 11 received doses of 10 micrograms, one-third of the current dose for adults and adolescents.

According to the company, trial data show Comirnaty is safe, “well tolerated, with side effects generally comparable to those seen in participants aged 16 to 25,” and produces a strong immune response one month after the second dose. .

When could the vaccine be approved in Canada for children under 12?

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Kieran Moore correctly predicted in July that drugmakers would submit trial results to governments in early fall and speculated that a vaccine for children under 12 would be approved shortly thereafter.

“I’m in regular contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Dr Theresa Tam and Dr Howard Njoo. Our finger is on that pulse,” Moore said July 27. “We know the trials are ending and they” I will have results for policymakers in the United States and Canada in early fall and a potential permit under the Emergency Use Agreement for the late fall, early winter.

Now that Pfizer has submitted preliminary data for its trial, the drugmaker only has to submit a formal request for authorization to use Comirnaty in children, which is expected later this month. In Ontario, Moore said public health partners are already working on a strategy to distribute the vaccine to children under 12.

“I just want to assure families, parents that we are already anticipating the need to vaccinate this five to 12 year old age group and are working on a plan with local public health agencies, our pharmacists and our primary care partners to ensure that it is available and accessible through multiple means as we have it now. “


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