Nunavut preparing for approval of COVID-19 vaccine for kids
Health Department awaiting green light from Ottawa, following promising results from Pfizer-BioNTech
Nunavut’s health officials are getting ready to vaccinate children under 12 against COVID-19 as soon as Health Canada gives the go-ahead.
The Health Department gave the update to Nunatsiaq News this week after Pfizer-BioNTech announced its mRNA vaccine, recently renamed Comirnaty, is showing signs it’s safe and effective for children in the five to 11 age group, according to a news release from the pharmaceutical company.
The company is planning to submit data from its research to regulatory bodies around the world for authorization before winter.
“Planning and discussions regarding administering of the vaccine to expanded eligible populations is underway in preparation of approval by the Government of Canada,” said Chris Puglia, a spokesperson for the Department of Health.
This could represent a sizeable jump in the territory’s immunization rate. Nunavut has a large youth population, with nearly a third of its inhabitants under 14, according to Statistics Canada.
A statement from Health Canada says even younger children could become eligible soon. The department “anticipates vaccine manufacturers to provide data in children in the coming months,” including research for children as young as six months.
Pfizer has not yet published a full study of its research, but one University of Ottawa epidemiologist said he’s impressed with the early data he’s seen, and that’s good news for getting out of the pandemic.
“You don’t get [to herd immunity] in Canada unless you start vaccinating children under 12,” said Raywat Deonandan said in an interview.
Once the vaccine is approved for the under-12 age group, Deonandan says some jurisdictions might make it mandatory for children to attend school or daycare. With that in mind, he says it’s important to address the hesitancy parents may feel about vaccinating their younger children.
“This particular vaccine seems to trigger people in a strange way because it’s wrapped in conspiracy theories and because people have observed its development in real time,” he said.
“It is highly, highly safe.”