As school outbreaks persist, parents and doctors hope COVID-19 vaccine approved for kids

MONTREAL — Parents of young, school-aged children across Canada may soon finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Nearly three million kids across the country aged five to 11 years old would be eligible for doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, should Health Canada give the green light.

With school already underway and COVID-19 cases among children rising across the country, a vaccine for this age group can’t come soon enough, experts say.

“I think our next best shot is vaccinating the kids and increasing as many people in the community who are immune as possible,” Dr. Earl Rubin, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Montreal Children’s Hospital, told CTV National News.

Right now, only individuals 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated. That could soon change, as Pfizer has shared its preliminary research into the effectiveness of its shot in five- to 11-year-olds. The drugmaker is planning to soon make a formal submission to Health Canada for approval.

The pediatric version of the vaccine has a dose that’s one-third of the amount given to teens and adults, and according to the company has shown a safe and strong immune response after two shots.

Many parents are eager for their kids to get 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 our youngest daughter caught it at the day home she attends, and that she spread it to her brother,” Steve Curtis told CTV National News.

Elementary school students are also carrying a heavy load. On top of keeping up with homework, they have to be mindful of COVID-19 in the classroom, or risk being shut down.

“I think to some extent kids have been forgotten in this pandemic,” Dr. Cora Constantinescu, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, told CTV National News. “When you look at their mental health, socialization and learning loss.”

Children with COVID-19 don’t get as sick as adults or end up in hospital as often, according to experts, but symptoms can still be severe and in rare cases deadly.

“Think about you and your family, and think about what it means to protect your child and to be able to give them back the life they had before this whole pandemic,” Constantinescu said.

Delivery of any pediatric doses has already been incorporated into the supply agreement Canada has with the drug manufacturer, a Pfizer spokesperson told The Canadian Press.

Canada signed a new contract with Pfizer for pediatric doses last spring.

With files from The Canadian Press

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