Canada authorizes Pfizer Covid vaccine for kids age 12 and up
Canada on Wednesday approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in children aged 12 years and up, becoming the first nation to do so.
"This is the first vaccine authorized in Canada for the prevention of Covid-19 in children and marks a significant milestone in Canada's fight against the pandemic," Health Canada chief medical advisor Supriya Sharma told a news conference.
Data from a clinical trial in the United States involving more than 2,000 youths who were given two doses showed it is as safe for adolescents as it is for adults, she said.
There were no cases of Covid-19 recorded among the vaccinated children. In adults it has been shown to be at least 95 percent effective in preventing infection.
The vaccine was authorized in December for use in Canadians 16 and older.
Other manufacturers of the four vaccines authorized in Canada -- the others are AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna -- are conducting or planning their own studies in children as young as six months old.
Sharma said Health Canada will expedite reviews of those results.
Since the start of the pandemic, about 20 percent of all Covid-19 cases in Canada were recorded in people under the age of 19. As of Wednesday, nearly 1.25 million people in this country have been diagnosed with Covid-19. More than 24,000 died.
While younger people are less likely to experience serious illness from Covid, Sharma said, "having access to a safe and effective vaccine will help control the disease's spread to their families and friends, some of whom may be at higher risk complications."
"It'll also support the return to a more normal life for our children who've had such a hard time over the past year," she said.
The United States is reportedly expected to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in 12-15 year olds next week.