Pfizer could soon be approved for B.C. kids as school exposures skyrocket

Pfizer could soon be approved for B.C. kids as school exposures skyrocket
WatchWATCH: As school exposures soar, Pfizer says its COVID vaccine is safe and effective for children aged five to 11. Tess van Straaten reports.

It’s the news many parents have been waiting for.

Children aged five to 11 are one step closer to getting vaccinated, after Pfizer announced a trial of more than 2,000 kids found its COVID vaccine is safe and effective.

“We’re hopeful and expectant that the FDA will approve the vaccine based on the data we have,” says Dr. Bill Gruber, senior vice-president of vaccine clinical research and development for Pfizer.

Pfizer says it will also be asking for approval in Canada for the vaccine, which was tested and will be given at a reduced dose for kids.

“When we can actually start vaccinating these children depends on how quickly the vaccine actually receives approval,” says Dr. Christopher Labos. “But one assumes that at some point during this school year, we will be doing vaccines in elementary school children.”

Pfizer shots for children could start in B.C. in October

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told the Globe and Mail that they’re now gearing up to vaccine elementary school children in B.C.

Henry says children aged five to 11 could get the Pfizer vaccine as early as the third week of October, if the company gets the necessary approvals from Health Canada.

“That’s 36 per cent of our unvaccinated individuals in B.C. are in that age group that can’t be vaccinated right now,” says Simon Fraser University infectious disease modeller Caroline Colijn. “That would be a huge benefit.”

The news comes as pediatric COVID cases continue to soar across the country and in the U.S., where they’re up a staggering 240 per cent since July and schools in some states are already closing.

“We’ve seen kids of all ages hospitalized with COVID-19, so this vaccine is going to be very good,” says Dr. Jennifer Nayak of Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Centre.

According to the crowd-sourced B.C. school COVID tracker Facebook page, at least 54 Vancouver Island schools now have exposures — more than double the number last week.

That includes a cluster at Sir James Douglas Elementary School in Victoria, where parent data shows there are now at least 17 cases.

“Delta is much more infectious and I think the concern is what happened last year may not be a good model for what happened this year and that makes it even more important to keep a close eye on it,” Colijn says.

Pfizer is already looking at how well the vaccine works in children under five and the company says it may have those results by the end of the year.

READ MORE: Victoria mom speaks out after son tests positive for COVID-19 the first week of school

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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