Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 pediatric vaccine for children aged five to 11.

This group is now eligible for vaccination. The Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (also known as Comirnaty) is the only product currently approved for children aged five to 11.

The vaccine is given in a 10 mcg dose, which has been dose adjusted based on efficacy for this age group, relative to the 30 mcg dose given to those ages 12 and up. Patients receive two doses of the vaccine, which are recommended at least eight weeks apart. COVID-19 vaccines can be administered concomitantly or at any time before or after the administration of another inactivated or live vaccine.

Eligibility: All children aged five to 11 years old, who do not otherwise have contraindications to the vaccine (e.g., history of anaphylactic reaction to polyethylene glycol or tromethamine). Children who have previously been infected with COVID-19 are recommended to get vaccinated. Note that children who have been diagnosed with MIS-C may be vaccinated once they have recovered from illness, and 90 days following their date of diagnosis.

The minimum age for vaccine receipt is based on age at presentation (i.e., the vaccine may be offered to individuals on or after their fifth birthday). Children less than 12 years of age who commence a series with the 10 mcg formulation and have turned 12 years of age by the time the second dose is due will receive the 30 mcg formulation to complete their primary series. If the second dose is given as the 10 mcg formulation, this dose is still considered valid and the series complete.

Please encourage parents to register their children to get vaccinated and to book their appointment as soon as invited. Parents may register their child through Get Vaccinated BC. Vaccination is set to begin on November 29, 2021.

Counselling points:

Reasons to vaccinate:

  • Vaccination will assist in keeping children, and their loved ones, safe from potentially severe COVID-19 infection (e.g., hospitalization, MIS-C).
  • Children who are vaccinated are less likely to develop COVID-19 infection, which minimizes the risk of disruption of school and extracurricular activities.

Side effects:

  • Local reactions, such as pain at the injection site, swelling and redness, are the most common side effects, mainly ranging from mild to moderate in severity, resolving after one to two days.
  • Systemic symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, chills, fevers and joint pain, are less commonly noted a few days after vaccination, and typically resolve within a day.
  • Less likely events including Henoch-Schonlein purpura and neutropenia have been noted, with patients
    having full resolution and no further complications.1
  • No serious adverse events including MIS-C, myocarditis, pericarditis, anaphylaxis/anaphylactoid reactions or deaths have been reported with use of this vaccine in the pediatric population to date.

Preparing for vaccination:

  • Vaccination clinics will be tailored towards young patients, with immunizers who have experience with working with the pediatric population, with quiet spaces available and plenty of room for multiple family members to provide support.

Adverse events following immunization (AEFI)

Please continue to report any AEFIs following pediatric immunization, using this form: Report of Adverse Event Following Immunization with COVID-19 Vaccine, including any:

  • serious events (life-threatening or resulting in death, requiring hospitalization, resulting in a residual disability, associated with congenital malformation)
  • events requiring urgent medical attention
  • unusual or unexpected events (for example, an event that has not been identified previously or has been identified before but is occurring with greater frequency in the population)

Further resources:

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