Canada approves new vaccine for children

Written by By Nada Kanouff, CNN Written by

Pfizer has received approval from Canada’s health department to market COVID-19, a vaccine that protects against pneumonia, meningitis, chicken pox and hepatitis B. The vaccine will be available across the country, for children aged 5 to 11.

Children and adolescents aged 3 to 19 who are at high risk of infection because of family history, other health conditions, or travel to areas where the diseases are endemic will also be eligible for the vaccine.

“The approval of COVID-19 further strengthens Pfizer’s global pipeline, as we prepare to continue providing the most innovative medicines to Canadians,” said Charlotte Yates, the company’s president of Pfizer Canada.

Pradyuman “Pudgy” Sarkar, 10, was treated with COVID-19. Credit: Courtesy Canadian Ministry of Health

The vaccine joins a growing roster of vaccines for children. In 2017, COVID-19 was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and for use in pregnant women during the first trimester.

COVID-19 is only one of many bacterial vaccines for children in development at Pfizer. An initial launch date for the vaccine in Canada is unknown. A spokesperson for the company said a US launch date could be announced in the near future.

How it works

Here’s how the vaccine works: The vaccine uses a different blood-based approach than many vaccines currently on the market, which rely on the production of live but weakened viruses.

“This new vaccine is using a natural pathogen that’s already in the body,” said Nicole Norris, who studies vaccinations at the University of British Columbia. “It uses antibodies that are already made, so it reduces a lot of the risk of side effects.”

Canadian children now have another vaccine that protects against five common childhood infections. Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

For the COVID-19 vaccine, the body makes three different types of antibodies that target different strains of bacteria, Norris said.

“The more successful the antibodies are, the more efficient the vaccine is in protecting you against this disease.”

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