Canada to receive 2.9M Pfizer doses to begin vaccinating 5 to 11 year-olds once approved, Trudeau says

Canada to receive 2.9M Pfizer doses to begin vaccinating 5 to 11 year-olds once approved, Trudeau says-Milenio Stadium-Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on during a tour and meet-and-greet with doctors at eastern Ontario children’s hospital CHEO in Ottawa, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Canada will receive enough vaccine doses from Pfizer to allow all children aged five to 11 to get a first dose shortly after Health Canada approves it for that age group, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.

Trudeau also urged parents to be patient while waiting for Health Canada to review the vaccine.

“I know parents are all going to be eager to get their kids vaccinated as quickly and as soon as possible. I want people to be patient,” he said.

“It is extremely important that [Health Canada] go through all the full processes necessary so that every parent can have confidence when these vaccines do get approved that they will be safe for their children.”

Trudeau made the announcement during a media availability at CHEO, the children’s hospital in Ottawa.

While Trudeau didn’t specify publicly when the 2.9 million doses will be delivered to Canada — promising only that it will be “as soon as possible” — he could be heard telling hospital staff prior to the announcement that they could arrive as soon as the end of this year.

Pfizer submitted preliminary data on the kids’ vaccine to Health Canada in early October but only formally asked the agency to approve it this week.

The company said the results were comparable to those recorded in the Pfizer-BioNTech study of people aged 16 to 25.

Pfizer has delivered more than 46 million doses to Canada to date. An analysis of the available data from the federal and provincial governments suggests there are more than enough Pfizer doses already in Canada to vaccinate kids between the ages of five and 11.

Kids likely can’t get shots with current stocks

But last week, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam cautioned that once the vaccine is approved for kids, it won’t mean that children under 12 can line up to be vaccinated with the Pfizer doses Canada currently has in stock.

Children under 12 likely will require a lower dosage than adults. Tam said that while it’s possible to draw lower doses from the vials currently in stock, she warned that it might cause the vaccine in those vials to be less effective.

“You can certainly look for different kinds of needles that might do the trick, but you can’t just dilute that vial … because that might actually change some aspect of how the formulation might work,” she said.

For children between the ages of 5 and 11 in the trial, the company used doses one-third the size of those given to adults now.

Pfizer-Milenio Stadium-Canada
Canada’s current stock of the Pfizer vaccine likely won’t be used for children according to Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Tam said Pfizer also has made changes to some of the components of its vaccine, which will require further examination.

“We also understand from Pfizer that this actual formulation has shifted,” she said. “This is a next generation formulation, so that is something that needs to be examined by the regulator.”

After approval, NACI will weigh in

Canada signed a new contract with Pfizer for pediatric doses last spring.

The vaccine was developed in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech and is now marketed under the brand name Comirnaty. It was authorized for people at least 16 years of age last December, and for kids between 12 and 15 in May.

Once the vaccine is approved for kids, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will weigh in on whether the benefits of the shot outweigh potential risks for young children.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has noted rare incidents of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after receiving an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

As of Oct. 1, Health Canada has documented 859 cases associated with the vaccines, which mainly seem to affect people under 40. That’s out of millions of doses given.


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