Pfizer Canada says it plans to provide Health Canada with data showing its COVID-19 vaccine works for children in a bid to seek authorization "as early as possible."
Pfizer said Monday its research shows its product works for children aged five to 11 and that it will also seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon — a key step toward protecting schoolchildren from the novel coronavirus.
Christina Antoniou, the company’s director of corporate affairs in Canada, says they "share the urgency" to provide data that could lead to a shot for young kids.
She could not say when that information would be submitted, but notes Pfizer has been sending new vaccine data to Health Canada as it becomes available.
Pfizer's latest findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.
Health Canada says several studies on children are underway by various COVID-19 vaccine makers, and that it "anticipates vaccine manufacturers to provide data in children in the coming months."
Health Canada adds that no submission has been received yet for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine in children younger than 12 years old.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is already available for anyone aged 12 and older.
Pfizer studied a lower dose of its two-dose vaccine in more than 2,200 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids, mostly in the United States and Europe. It says the kids developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as those detected in teenagers and young adults.
Moderna is also testing its shots in elementary school-aged children, and both Pfizer and Moderna are studying COVID-19 vaccines for those as young as six months old. Results are expected later in the year.
Medical officials called the results of Pfizer's trial with kids "encouraging" but cautioned against anticipating too much too soon.
The medical lead with Manitoba's COVID-19 vaccine implementation team said it was too early to know what the findings could mean for kids under the age of 12 in the province.
"At this time, we don't even know the extent of how well it protects, what number of side effects they saw. We're very early in the planning," said Dr. Joss Reimer.
However, Reimer said the team has started planning in the event Health Canada approves the Pfizer vaccine for children.
She said this may include providing doses in schools or having alternative clinics in place for youth.
A spokeswoman for Ontario's health ministry said the province is "monitoring the evidence."
"Working with our public health and health system partners we will be ready to administer doses to children aged five to 11 as soon as they are approved by Health Canada," said Alexandra Hilkene.
Alberta also said it would await Health Canada approval before vaccinating children.
"Until vaccines are approved for this age group, younger children rely on older Albertans who are immunized to strengthen our defences to protect everyone in our province," said provincial government spokeswoman Lisa Glover.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.
— With files from Laura Osman in Ottawa, Brittany Hobson in Winnipeg, John Chidley-Hill in Toronto, Bob Weber in Edmonton and the Associated Press