Ottawa: Canada’s drug regulator approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for infants and preschoolers Thursday, making it the first vaccine approved for that age group in the country.
Health Canada now says the Moderna vaccine can be given to young children between the ages of six months and five years old in doses one-quarter the size of that approved for adults.
“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the department has determined that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 in children between 6 months and 5 years of age,’’ the department said in a statement.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization gave provinces its assent to offer the vaccine to children in that age group Thursday, by recommending that children “may’’ be offered the vaccine.
The committee’s executive secretary, Dr. Matthew Tunis, said NACI is acknowledging that this could be an “important protective measure’’ for parents who want to exercise the option for their kids, and the recommendation could be strengthened as more data becomes available.
While serious illness among children is rare, the committee said the number of children hospitalized for COVID-19 shot up dramatically as the Omicron variant spread rampantly last winter.
“This authorization comes at a critical time in the pandemic as we progress through the seventh wave and though children are less likely to experience complications from COVID-19, they can still get very sick,’’ said Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, at a media briefing Thursday.

By Laura Osman
The Canadian Press