Health Canada has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11, the department announced Friday.

The announcement means that elementary school children will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Previously, only kids aged 12 and up were eligible.

The vaccine will require two doses of 10 mcg for kids aged 5-11 – one third of the dose for adults. The dosing scheme approved by Health Canada is to give those two doses 21 days apart.

Pfizer had submitted its trial data to Health Canada on Oct. 1 for evaluation, and the full submission for approval Oct. 18.

Pfizer’s clinical trial data showed that the vaccine had 91 per cent efficacy against COVID-19 in this age group.

Provinces have been preparing for the announcement for weeks, with many drawing up plans for how they would distribute the vaccines. In Ontario, children will likely be vaccinated at school, although it’s unclear whether it would happen during school hours.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Oct. 21 that the Canadian government had a deal with Pfizer to procure 2.9 million pediatric doses of the vaccine shortly after its approval by Health Canada.

It’s unclear how many parents will jump at the opportunity to vaccinate their young children, though. A recent survey found only half of parents intended to “immediately” vaccinate their kids when a vaccine became available.

Around 77 per cent of the total Canadian population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Adding children would significantly increase the proportion eligible to receive the shot and potentially push that number higher.

The U.S. approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children on Nov. 2 and began vaccinating children under 12 shortly after.

Health Canada is also currently reviewing an application from Moderna for approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6-11. ALSO READ: Health Canada approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

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