Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have authorized the use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in children between the ages of 12 to 17.
Previously, the Moderna vaccine was only permitted in people 18 years of age or older.
In a series of tweets, Health Canada and PHAC said the decision to expand Moderna use came after “a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence” found that it’s safe and effective for that age group.
(1/3) Health Canada has authorized the use of the Moderna #CovidVaccine in youth aged 12 to 17. Until now, this vaccine was only authorized for use in people 18 years of age or older. pic.twitter.com/xMqf6MGR0A
— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) August 27, 2021
The agencies say they will continue to closely monitor the safety of the vaccine.
As of mid-August, 75 per cent of kids in that age group had received at least one dose, and 59 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Health Canada also says the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is meeting next week to discuss whether booster shots should be offered to people with compromised immune systems.
Ontario has already begun to offer boosters to transplant recipients, people with some blood cancers and long-term care home residents.
Back in May, Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old after it was initially approved for those 16 and over.
Health Canada took only a few weeks to approve Pfizer for youth, and has not explained why the Moderna review took more than two months.
Europe approved the Moderna vaccine for children more than a month ago. The United States has not yet authorized it for teenagers.
The Pfizer vaccine however was approved for teens just as concerns were rising about rare instances of myocarditis _ inflammation of the heart muscle _ and pericarditis, inflammation of the sac around the heart _ particularly in younger people.
In Canada, 557 cases of the two syndromes have now been diagnosed in people who had received one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, 96 per cent of whom had received either Pfizer or Moderna. Half of the people who developed the syndrome were between 12 and 29 years old.
Overall the rate of the syndromes occurred in less than one in 100,000 people who received the vaccine.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization said in a statement Friday that it recommended kids between 12 and 17 get both doses of either Pfizer or Moderna, noting that it had taken into account the concerns around myocarditis and pericarditis.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said in her weekly written update that since Pfizer has been used for the nearly two million teens already vaccinated, some provinces and territories might want to just keep using it since they are more familiar with its side-effects.
But she said Moderna is still safe to use for that age group.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are in the midst of trials of their vaccines for children younger than 12, with results expected sometime this fall.