“As a parent, you protect your child and keep them happy and healthy. Deciding to vaccinate your child is the best way to protect them from disease.” Public Health Agency of Canada
For more than a century, vaccines have protected Canadian children from illnesses.
Health Canada’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children and youth five years and older is another major milestone in our country’s long history of childhood vaccines, dating back to 1918 when the first vaccine to immunize children against pertussis, a highly contagious respiratory disease known as whooping cough, was introduced to Canada.
Since then, some diseases, such as polio, rubella, diphtheria, are now rarely seen in Canada because of long-term high rates of vaccination. Consider that in 1953, 9,000 cases of polio were reported in Canada; yet, only 12 years later, after the introduction of polio vaccine, only 3 cases were reported.
In November of this year, the arrival of more than 2.9 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine to protect children aged five to 11 from COVID-19 in Canada — enough to provide a first dose to every eligible Canadian child ― continues this vital medical tradition of protecting children, their families, and their communities from serious illnesses.
As is the case with all new vaccines, approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by Health Canada was based on a thorough scientific review of the evidence to make sure it was safe and effective. This review compared the immune response, safety and effectiveness of the vaccine to a placebo, and determined that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risks.
Similar to what was seen in adult vaccine trials, the vaccination was nearly 91% effective at preventing COVID-19 in children five to 11 years of age. The scientifically strict process of testing and review saw no adverse reactions to the vaccines. The most common side effect was a sore arm.
Leading health organizations that specialize in child medicine, including the Canadian Paediatric Society, recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine for children and youth. The society says having your child immunized for COVID-19 will not only protect children and youth from infection, including the Delta variant, but will help prevent the virus from spreading to family and friends, and to help people more likely to get very sick from the disease.
“Vaccination is a way for children to get back to their activities, time with friends and family, and other things that they enjoy.” Canadian Paediatric Society
The society adds that the benefits of having your child immunized for COVID-19 include less time away from school or activities, with positive impacts on your child's physical and mental health.
Younger people who get COVID-19 usually have milder symptoms. However, some children (including those with certain chronic conditions) are at higher risk for severe disease and may be hospitalized. A few children have developed an inflammatory illness after having COVID-19, and a few deaths have resulted.
“Children are vaccinated at a very young age because this is when they are most vulnerable to diseases.” Public Health Agency of Canada
Paediatric or childhood vaccines protect the health of children who are not developed enough to be able to fight serious infections.
They lower a child's risk of infection by working with the body's natural defenses to develop their immunity against a disease. Childhood vaccines are safe — and, like the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine, most provide over 90% protection against disease.
The Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine has been added to vaccines routinely provided and currently available in Canada to protect your child against 15 serious diseases. Examples include:
Measles is still a leading cause of death in children worldwide, with 89,780 cases in 2016. One person with measles can infect 12 to 18 people who haven't had the vaccine.
Measles is a very contagious disease. You can catch it by walking into a room that an infected person sneezed in an hour before you entered.
In Canada, infections like whooping cough are on the rise. This is a serious and life-threatening disease, particularly for babies. About half of all infected babies need hospitalization.
To find out where you can get your child vaccinated for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and other pediatric or childhood vaccines:
The Canadian Paediatric Society reminds parents to make sure their child gets the second dose as scheduled. Your child is considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the second vaccine dose. The society also emphasizes that your child cannot get any virus from this vaccine. None of the COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada contain a live virus.
The safety of all vaccines are closely and continuously monitored by governments, public health authorities and manufacturers around the world.
Read our Living Well Hub blog which dispels common myths about COVID-19 vaccines.
This information was compiled from trustworthy sources, including: