TORONTO -- Some parents of small kids dreading the notion of getting back into H1N1 vaccine lineups next week for their child's second shot got some good news Thursday.
So did their kids.
The Public Health Agency of Canada announced it is changing its recommendation for healthy children aged three to nine, saying they probably don't need a second shot of the vaccine to be protected.
The decision isn't based on the hardest of hard scientific evidence, but on some promising data and the reality that when vaccine supplies are still scarce, it probably makes sense to give more people one dose than to give children a second dose they may not need. It's a position advised by the World Health Organization.
The head of the Public Health Agency, Dr. David Butler-Jones, called the decision "educated pragmatism."
Kids aged three to nine with chronic diseases may need a second shot. And infants and toddlers aged six to 35 months should get two shots of the vaccine, said Butler-Jones.
"There's not enough information now to make a blanket recommendation for all groups," he said in an interview.
"But in consultation with the pediatricians and the vaccine task group... and public health officials across the country, this seems very prudent and reasonable advice because parents are going to be starting to make this decision next week. So we want to get ahead of that."
The agency reserved the right to revisit the decision in the future if newer scientific data point to a need for two doses for these children, or confirm that one dose would be sufficient even for young kids with chronic illnesses.
Next week marks the fourth week of Canada's H1N1 vaccination campaign in a number of jurisdictions, so parents who had kids under 10 vaccinated in Week 1 would be starting to plan how and when to get the second needle. When two shots are recommended, there must be at least a 21-day interval between the two.
The limited data that exist suggest the vaccine Canada is using may even protect young children with a single dose because it contains an adjuvant, an additive that boosts the immune response. But the data are too limited for the experts advising Canada on H1N1 vaccine policy to feel confident that the youngest children would be protected by a single shot.
-- The Canadian Press