Canada has became the first nation in the world to authorise the use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in children aged 12 to 15, describing the move as a light at the end of the tunnel.
Supriya Sharma, a senior adviser at the Canadian federal health ministry, said on Wednesday that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was safe and effective in the younger age group.
“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she told reporters. A health ministry spokesman confirmed Canada was the first country to allow children of those ages to receive the Pfizer medicine.
The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to take a similar step “very soon”, US health officials said.
Separately, authorities reported the third death of a Canadian from a rare blood clot condition after receiving AstraZeneca vaccine. The man, who was in his 60s, lived in the Atlantic province of New Brunswick.
Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health in New Brunswick, said the province would continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Alberta reported a death from clotting on Tuesday and Quebec announced one on 27 April.
“There will be rare cases where thrombosis will occur. However, the risks remain minimal compared to the risks, complications and potential consequences of Covid,” Russell told reporters.
Canada’s federal government has bought tens of millions of doses of vaccines but critics complain the pace of inoculation is lagging due to bottlenecks in the 10 provinces, which are responsible for administering the doses.
Alberta will become the first province to offer Covid-19 vaccines to everyone aged 12 and over from 10 May, the premier, Jason Kenney, said on Wednesday, a day after he introduced tighter public health measures to combat a third wave of the pandemic.
Alberta, home to Canada’s oil patch, has the highest rate per capita of Covid in the country, with nearly 24,000 active cases and 150 people in intensive care.
Around 20% of the 1,249,950 cases of Covid in Canada have been reported in people under the age of 19. Canada has recorded 24,396 deaths.