Canada has allowed children as young as 12 to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The company said the move will help protect them before the next school year starts.
The review of medical data has shown that the Pfizer vaccine is “safe and effective” for younger teenagers, Supriya Sharma, a chief medical adviser to Health Canada, the government’s medical agency, told reporters.
Sharma said that, while younger people are generally less likely to have severe cases of Covid-19, giving them the vaccine will help reduce the risk of infecting their family members and friends, and allow a return to “a more normal life” amid the pandemic. She added that the most common side effects for children are mild and temporary, like “a sore arm, chills or fever.”
Canada previously only allowed people aged 16 and older to be vaccinated. The decision to lower the bar to 12 was made after a Pfizer trial showed that the vaccine was 100% effective for adolescents and triggered “robust antibody responses.” The trial was conducted in the US and involved 2,260 people aged 12 to 15.
Pfizer’s chief vaccines officer in Canada, Fabien Paquette, said that including children aged 12-15 in the program will help protect them before the start of the next school year.
A Pfizer spokesperson told Canadian media that Canada is the second country, after Algeria, to allow children aged 12 and older to receive its vaccine.
The minimum age for Covid-19 vaccination in the US is 16, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The minimum age for people who can receive a Pfizer vaccine in the UK is also 16.
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