TORONTO – Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends an eight-week interval between doses of the new Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11, rather than the three weeks approved by Health Canada . It will ultimately be up to the provinces to decide which interval is the best.
Health Canada cleared the Pfizer vaccine for children on Friday, making it the first in the country to receive regulatory approval for this age group. A total of 2.9 million doses are expected to arrive by the end of next week.
Although Health Canada and Pfizer say the vaccine can be offered three weeks apart, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended an eight-week interval between doses.
NACI notes that while there is no direct evidence for an optimal interval for children, it cited evidence in adults that a longer interval may improve the immune response.
“We see that the NACI made a different recommendation based on… their own analysis of the data,” Fabien Paquette, vaccine manager for Pfizer Canada, told CTV News.
“So at the end of the day, whether it’s from the perspective of NACI or any… provincial jurisdiction, it’s up to them to decide whether to deliver immunization programs in the way they feel is most appropriate for their population.” .
Paquette said in discussions with federal authorities, in particular the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a three-week interval has been agreed upon for Pfizer’s clinical programs, as has been the case for adolescents and the adults.
When asked if it would make a difference to the effectiveness of the vaccine, he replied that the data is not available.
“What we have in our own data sets is really a three week interval. A longer interval has not been studied with this age group,” he said.
“Now we can make assumptions based on what we saw in the… adult groups, and that’s probably how the analysis was done by public health authorities. But compared to what we’re seeing right now, the data available is really with a three-week interval. “
Paquette said it was too early to say whether pediatric COVID-19 vaccines will be offered each year, but that more data will be collected to ensure that “the best decisions are made in this regard.”
Paquette also called Health Canada’s clearance a “day many parents across the country have been looking forward to” and a likely “game changer” to further protect Canadians against COVID-19.
He said Pfizer has submitted a “significant” amount of data to Health Canada, especially for the Phase 2 and 3 trials, with over 4,600 participating children, resulting in 91% efficacy and little effect. secondary.
He said no cases of myocarditis have been reported, a side effect seen with mRNA vaccines causing inflammation of the heart muscle, during clinical trials. But he added that Pfizer takes this seriously and will pay attention to any reports that will be released as the vaccines are used in Canada and around the world.
Asked about parents reluctant to get their child vaccinated, Paquette said it was “totally understandable.”
“If you have kids between the ages of five and 12, you want the best for them, and the best for them from what we are currently seeing with the science available is clearly to present them with a vaccine that has been officially licensed by Health Canada, and I would say talk to your health care providers, ”he said.
Regarding the warrants of vaccines for children, Paquette said it was not for a pharmaceutical company to answer, but rather for public health authorities.
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