A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine against Covid-19.
Health Canada has formally approved use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 for children aged five to 11.
The federal agency’s webpage regarding the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine now states: “The vaccine is approved for people who are five years of age and older. Its safety and effectiveness in people younger than five years of age have not yet been established.”
Friday’s announcement, which had been widely anticipated, clears the way for younger children in the Northwest Territories to receive vaccination against Covid-19.
David Maguire, a spokesperson for the NWT’s health authority – known as NTHSSA – said the territory had been preparing for that rollout.
“NTHSSA has been preparing our teams with training and awareness that this would be happening, validating our logistics and vaccine supply requirements, ensuring we have the correct transportation processes and equipment in place,” Maguire wrote on Thursday, ahead of the announcement.
“Training will take place once all information is provided … on the administration processes and parameters of the vaccine product.”
The version of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine approved for use in children aged five to 11 is slightly different to the one used by people aged 12 and up. Smaller doses will be used, and the modified version is tweaked to keep the vaccine stable in half-doses.
When the vaccine will be available in the NWT is not yet clear.
“Timelines are being determined,” said Maguire.
“This vaccine campaign will be delivered with a new formulation of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine product that is specifically for this younger age group.
“This vaccine product is not yet in the NWT so we will be making announcements about availability when we have more details on supply.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the first to be approved for children aged five to 11 in Canada. Moderna’s vaccine is currently approved for people aged 12 and up.
In a statement on Friday, NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane said the latest approval was “an important moment in our fight against the virus.”
Cochrane wrote: “Availability of an approved Covid-19 vaccine for this age group will assist us to bring the pandemic under control and ending the public health emergency in the Northwest Territories.
“All approved Covid-19 vaccines have been thoroughly tested and they are safe. NWT residents can be confident that a Covid-19 vaccine is approved by Health Canada by experts, scientists, and medical professionals who have carefully reviewed all the scientific data and evidence for vaccine safety and effectiveness.
“We have had significant experience with vaccine campaigns over the last year and we are ready to for another successful rollout. Further details on vaccination opportunities, including a full schedule and information on booking, will be announced in the coming week.”