MONTREAL — Parents of young, school-age children across Canada can soon breathe a sigh of relief.
Around 3 million children between the ages of five and 11 across the country would be eligible for a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, if approved by Health Canada.
With schools already running and cases of COVID-19 among children rising across the country, a vaccine for this age group may not come soon enough, experts say.
“I think our next best shot is to vaccinate children and raise as many people as possible in the community,” Dr. Earl Rubin, a pediatrician at Montreal Children’s Hospital, told Granthshala National News.
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Right now, only individuals 12 years of age and older are eligible to be vaccinated. That may soon change, as Pfizer shares its preliminary research into the effectiveness of its shot in five- to 11-year-olds. The drugmaker plans to formally submit it to Health Canada for approval soon.
The pediatric version of the vaccine has a dose that is one-third of the amount given to teens and adults, and has shown a safe and strong immune response after two shots, according to the company.
Many parents are eager to get their children vaccinated, including the Curtis family of Sherwood Park, Alta., whose 10-year-old Caden and four-year-old Ella are both recovering from COVID-19.
“Our guess is that our youngest daughter caught it the day she got home, and she spread it to her brother,” Steve Curtis told Granthshala National News.
Primary school students are also carrying a heavy load. Topped with homework, they have to be mindful of COVID-19 in the classroom, or risk being turned down.
“I think children have been somewhat forgotten in this pandemic,” said pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Cora Constantinescu told Granthshala National News. “When you look at their mental health, socialization and learning impairment.”
According to experts, children with COVID-19 do not get as sick or end up in hospital as adults, but the symptoms can still be severe and in rare cases fatal.
“Think about yourself and your family, and think about what it means to protect your child and be able to give them back the life they have before this whole pandemic,” Dr. Konstatinscu said.
A Pfizer spokesperson told The Canadian Press that delivery of any pediatric supplements has been included in the supply agreement with the Canadian drugmaker.
Canada signed a new contract with Pfizer for pediatric supplements last spring.
With files from the Canadian Press