COVID-19 vaccine approval for children, relaxed border measures to be announced today


Published November 19, 2021 at 7:26 am

OTTAWA — The federal government is set to make two major announcements on the pandemic front on Friday (Nov. 19), starting with the approval of Canada’s first COVID-19 vaccine for children, then later detailed plans to ease some of the pandemic-related measures at the border.

The government has scheduled a media briefing with officials at 10 a.m. to share news regarding authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children.

Canada is expecting an accelerated delivery of 2.9 million child-sized doses as soon as Health Canada provides regulatory approval, enough for a first dose for every child in the five to 11 age group.

Officials will also give an update on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

At 1 p.m., federal ministers are set to discuss easing measures taken to prevent importing new cases across the border.

They are expected to do away with the rule that requires travellers taking short trips to the U.S. to present a negative molecular COVID-19 test in order to get back into the country.

In a statement Thursday, Pfizer Canada said the company is prepared to deliver the pediatric doses to Canada shortly following federal authorization.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech submitted a request for approval of child-sized doses of its mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 on Oct. 18.

The companies say the results of their trials in children show comparable safety and efficacy results to those recorded in a previous Pfizer-BioNTech study in adults aged 16 to 25.

Health Canada said it would only approve the vaccine for children if its analysis showed the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech for children on Oct. 29, and the United States has already vaccinated more than two million children.

Meanwhile, Canada’s border policy for short trips has been heavily criticized as lacking in public health value. People can get tested in Canada, cross into the U.S. for up to 72 hours, and then show the results of the Canadian test upon their return.

Critics, including business leaders, Canadian and international politicians, members of the tourism industry and travellers have complained the requirement is expensive, cumbersome and redundant.

Travellers are still expected to have to present a negative molecular test at the border when returning from trips longer than 72 hours.

The rule is part of an order-in-council that is set to expire on Sunday.

Critics have called for the test requirement to be scrapped completely for vaccinated travellers, but Canada is expected to take a more gradual approach to ramp down health measures at the border.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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