COVID-19: Vaccine for children highly likely by Christmas, says provincial health officer

Dr. Henry says Health Canada would “likely recommend very soon” the low-dose shot for kids

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British Columbia’s vaccination program for children will very likely be up and running by Christmas, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

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During a scheduled press conference on Tueday, Henry made her strongest remarks yet about the likely use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in B.C. for the 300,000 kids in the province aged 5 to 11.

Henry said that Health Canada would “likely recommend very soon” the low-dose shot for kids, and that at the same time the National Advisory Committee on Immunization would make the same recommendation.

She said that the Ministry of Health would be in touch with parents “before Christmas break” who had already registered their children for vaccination, adding that the roll out of vaccine for children underway in the U.S. had been very helpful.

The Pfizer kids dose is tailored for children’s immune systems – which are strong – and would be a lower dose and also be a less painful jab than the adult dose. It also had weaker side effects, Henry said.

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There were 338 new cases of COVID-19 reported over the past day and one death – bringing that total to 2,274. Of the 3,568 active cases of the disease, 376 are being treated in hospital including 107 in intensive care.

Of those aged 12 and over in B.C. 86.8 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Henry said she was hopeful the 5,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine that arrived over the weekend would be used by some of the almost 3,000 health-care workers that remain unvaccinated and therefore cannot work.

Henry said the one-dose J&J shot would allow unvaccinated workers to be back on the job after two weeks, and not have to wait the more than one month that would be required with a two-dose regime of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. There are 2,885 unvaccinated health-care workers in B.C. who are on unpaid leave.

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Henry said that J&J vaccine not used by health-care workers would be made available to people who register to get on a waitlist by calling 1-888-833-2323.

She said B.C. was watching closely the surging cases of COVID-19 in western Europe at the moment, given those countries (in particular Austria, Germany and the Netherlands) have high vaccination rates similar to B.C.

She also confirmed that a new lineage (AY4.2) of the Delta variant had arrived in B.C. and it was more contagious and impacted young people worse than the original Delta variant from India.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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