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Pediatric COVID vaccine to be offered to B.C. infants and toddlers beginning Aug. 2

Parents are encouraged to register children for COVID vaccination at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated
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A health worker administers a dose of a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Infants and toddlers will be able to get their COVID-19 vaccines through health ­authority child-friendly clinics across the province starting Aug. 2, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.

“The leading experts in the country have recommended this,” said Dix. “This is a special amount of vaccines designed to support children and to protect children six months to four years.”

Health Canada approved on Thursday the Moderna Spikevax vaccine for those age six months to five years. The mRNA vaccine, which is 25 micrograms or a quarter of an adult dose, is given in two doses.

“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, Health Canada has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between six months and five years of age outweigh the potential risks,” the federal drug regulator announced. “The vaccine was well tolerated and no safety signals were identified from the trial, Health Canada said.

Dix said about 208,000 infants and children in B.C. — two million in Canada— will be able to receive the two-dose protection against serious illness and death from COVID-19.

A similar pediatric vaccine from Pfizer has not yet been approved. “It’s our expectation it will also be approved in the near future,” Dix said.

Parent Danielle Weil, mother of three girls, living in Brantford, Ont. said she was “pleased and relieved” by the news Thursday.

“We are looking forward to having our children receive it,” said Weil.

Weil’s daughter Mary Elizabeth called Emme, who has cystic fibrosis, was in hospital nine days recently due to the irritation and impact that coughing from COVID-19 had on her condition.

“We are glad it is approved because I feel that it is my responsibility as a parent to a child with a disease like CF to do what I feel will protect her,” said Weil. The family isolated, masked and were “very careful” and still contracted COVID.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends severely immuno-compromised infants and children age six months to five years old receive three doses instead of two.

“I want to make sure that we can do whatever we can to protect her and her sisters when they start school this year,” said Weil. Weil has fraternal four-year-old twins Emme and Erin and a 21-month-old Clare.

“Hopefully vaccinating will add to whatever protection our immune system has already started to build,” she said.

Canada’s deputy chief public heath officer Dr. Howard Njoo, at a press conference Thursday, said children already infected by COVID-19 would still benefit from added protection against severe illness.

Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan, encouraged parents to register their children under the age of five at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated so that they will receive their invitation to book starting the first week of August.

NACI strongly recommends the COVID-19 vaccine not be given to those five and under on the same day as other vaccines.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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