Canadian health officials expected to approve Pfizer vaccines for children: report
Vaccinating younger children against COVID-19 could soon become a possibility in Canada, a move supported by Alberta, according to reporting by the Toronto Star.
Sources told the publication that Health Canada officials would be making the announcement approving the Pfizer vaccine for those between ages five and 11 on Friday, and 2.9 million doses are expected to be delivered to Canada by the end of November.
The U.S. is now administering shots to children as young as five after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted authorization in October.
Alberta Health officials have made preparations for vaccine rollout by allowing parents and guardians to preregister their children on the online vaccine booking system, but specific timelines have not been unveiled.
Other provinces – like Manitoba and Ontario – have already laid out comprehensive rollout plans for the age group.
When asked about Alberta's strategy Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney wouldn't tip his hand.
Experts say they hope it's an organized plan that can get shots in arms before the Christmas break.
"These kids can still give the virus to their parents or at risk grandparents," infectious disease expert Dr. Craig Jenne told CTV News.
"They're part of our social circles, and with the holidays coming up we are anticipating a lot more in the way of family gatherings. Likewise, we've seen over the course of the last year how many times classrooms have been disrupted. Things like vaccination is how we avoid that and how we keep outbreaks out of our schools."
Since the start of the school year, children between the ages of five and nine have made up the most COVID-19 cases per capita in Alberta.
According to the province, there is slightly more than 390,000 children in Alberta between the ages of five and 11.
As well, Alberta Health has no plans to include younger children in the Restrictions Exemption Program where proof of vaccination is required to participate in many activities.
The province said it would encourage vaccines for younger children.
"We know from listening to parents the importance of really for that five to 11 year old age group, underlining the fact that it is a parental choice for them to make," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Tuesday,
"There is a societal benefit to having as many people as possible with vaccine protection, because that does minimize the chances that individuals in that age group would transmit to others."
As for vaccine requirements for school settings, the rules for staff and teachers will not be the same for students. Officials do not expect mandates for little ones.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says all students are legally allowed to go to school regardless of their vaccination status.
LaGrange wrote a letter encouraging school boards to require staff and any adults entering the school to have proof of vaccination or a negative test result.
The Calgary Board of Education announced last month that it would require staff and volunteers to be vaccinated by Dec. 17.