Health Canada approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5

Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids under five has been approved by Health Canada, making it the second vaccine option for children in this age group.

“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, Health Canada has determined that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risks in this age group,” reads a news release sent Friday.

Health Canada has approved a three-dose primary series of three micrograms each of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children aged six months to four-years-old. 

That differs from Moderna’s vaccine for this age group, a two-dose series and a higher amount of vaccine per dose which was approved in July.

WATCH | Health Canada approves Moderna vaccine for kids: 

Health Canada adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma says the agency will continue to receive data from Moderna regarding its safety and effectiveness following its approval for use in younger children.

Federal health officials say Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine should be given at an interval of three weeks between the first and second doses, with eight weeks between the second and third dose. 

There are about 1.7 million Canadians in this age group. According to federal data, 47,363 kids under five have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Aug. 14. 

Health Canada says the jabs, which target the original strain of COVID-19, remain effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.

The government recently approved a newer version of Moderna’s vaccine that targets the Omicron variant of COVID-19, but its use has not yet been approved for the youngest cohort.