Canada authorises Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15

First country in the world to offer the vaccine to those under 16

In this Saturday, April 10, 2021 photo, a syringe is loaded with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, Canada’s health regulator authorized the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 and older. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The health department in Canada has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children aged 12 to 15, making it the first nation to authorise the shot for people under 16.

“After completing a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that this vaccine is safe and effective at preventing Covid-19 when used in children between 12 and 15 years,” Health Canada said on Wednesday.

The US Food and Drug Administration is also expected to approve the vaccine for young people by next week, meaning many may be vaccinated before the start of the next school year.

The announcement comes barely a month after Pfizer-BioNTech found that its vaccine, which is already authorised for those aged 16 and older, also provided protection for the younger age group.

Vaccine distribution in Canada is controlled by provincial governments.

In the western province of Alberta, officials said children 12 and older would be eligible for the vaccine as of Monday.

Canada is experiencing a third wave of infections, with case counts up in several areas.

About 13 million Canadians have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far.