COVID-19 vaccine for babies and toddlers could be approved early 2022, chief public health officer says

Canada's chief public health officer says she hopes vaccines for babies and toddlers will be approved in the new year, depending on how clinical trials play out.

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna testing vaccine for those starting at 6 months

A healthcare worker administrates a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a student during a vaccination clinic for ages 5 - 11 hosted by Jewel Osco in Wheeling, Ill., Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (Associated Press)

Canada's chief public health officer says COVID-19 vaccines for babies and toddlers could be approved early in the new year, depending on how clinical trials play out.

In an interview with CBC Radio-Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam said a vaccine for some of Canada's youngest people could be a turning point in the fight against COVID-19.

"Children do have a robust immune system and I expect that they will mount a good immune response to the vaccine as well," she said

"And for their parents as well, it's sort of offering them some further hope." 

In a major vaccine milestone, children aged five to 11 started to receive their first doses this week after Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for that age group. Meanwhile, that company is running clinical trials for those aged six months to just under five years.

Moderna is waiting for Health Canada approval on its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged six to 11, and is also in the midst of recruiting younger children for a clinical trial.

"I can't tell you exactly when those results will be available," Tam said of the trials. "It depends on how many people they recruit and how fast the trials go. But I think all of that is well underway."

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says she's hoping to see some clinical trial data later this year for those under five years. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

Tam said she anticipates seeing results from Pfizer-BioNTech for those aged two to five first. The doctor said she's hoping to see some trial data toward the end of this year.

"Which means for the youngest age group, the most likely timeline is optimistically at the beginning of next year," she said.

It's ultimately up to Health Canada to review the data and approve the vaccines.

Tam said those vaccines could add an extra layer of protection for parents and children.

"And that might also offer them another option for reducing disruptions in their life, whether it be daycare or kindergarten," she said.

"That would be really great news once we get the results."

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