Vaccination of children under 5: green light in early 2022, hopes Dr Tam | Coronavirus

Vaccination of children under 5: green light in early 2022, hopes Dr Tam | Coronavirus
Vaccination of children under 5: green light in early 2022, hopes Dr Tam | Coronavirus

Where are we in the approval of vaccines for children aged 6 months to 5 years in Canada?

The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are currently in clinical trials in the youngest age group (6 months to 5 years for Pfizer, 6 months to 6 years for Moderna). Pfizer, for example, could report results for 2 to 5 year olds first, and then for 6 months to 2 years.

Hopefully clinical trial data will be available towards the end of the year, but we’re not sure. […] This means that for the youngest group, the most likely timeline, optimistically, would be [une autorisation] early next year. I note that it is up to Health Canada to review the data and approve the vaccines.

What would be the impact of immunizing children under 5?

Like 5-11 year olds, this will give parents and children an extra layer of protection. Some infants and toddlers may be sick. For example, in this age group (6 months to 5 years), the hospitalization rate is highest among children under 1 year of age. We have to wait for the results of clinical trials, but the children have strong immune systems and I expect them to develop a good response to the vaccine.

Vaccination will limit the upheavals in the lives of the youngest, with daycare for example, and in those of their parents. The vaccine will give them more hope. If we consider the protection of children and the possibility of returning to a more normal life, [l’autorisation du vaccin] would be very good news, depending on the results [des essais cliniques].

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, hopes children 6 months to 5 years old will begin to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as early as 2022.

Photo : Getty Images / Sean Gallup

In Quebec, many parents are still resistant to the idea of ​​having their child vaccinated (28% of parents of children aged 5 to 11, according to the INSPQ). How to reassure them?

Health Canada has approved the vaccines, which means that careful reviews of the clinical data have been carried out. They show that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Parents can rest assured that the rigorous review process that has been put in place for other vaccines also applies to those intended for children. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of vaccines and their safety in the event of rare incidents that may occur after injection that we may not have seen in clinical trials. The United States has vaccinated 2.9 million children, according to the latest numbers I could see, and they haven’t detected any significant red flags.

Usually people have doubts at first, but when they see their friends, neighbors and other children at school being immunized, confidence increases and often they decide to move on. I believe that’s what we’ll see.

According to your estimates, when do you foresee a marked slowdown in the epidemic in Canada?

Personally, I believe that the end of winter and the beginning of spring will mark a turning point where we can reassess [la situation]. Of course, we will have to look at where we are after Christmas and observe the level of activity [du virus]. […] If we have access to antiviral pills, if the booster doses are in place, and the children are immunized, I believe all of these tools will make COVID-19 much easier to control.

With the vaccination of children added, do you think it is time for the provinces to relax health restrictions?

The highest incidence is found to be in small areas [géographiques] where the vaccination rate is low. Governments must remain flexible and monitor the data.

I have already said that there will be obstacles on the course. This is to be expected this winter, a season when respiratory viruses spread more and where indoor gatherings are more frequent. We must add layers of protection.

Notwithstanding instructions from local authorities, you can choose to continue to wear the mask, for example. Getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 is very important, as is getting a dose of the flu shot.

A more personal question. You have been at the heart of the management of this health crisis for almost two years. How are you?

I’m fine. Hope everyone too. I try to keep myself as fit as possible by exercising. I’m not doing as much as I used to and have to get back to it. This helps maintain good physical and mental health. […] I am optimistic. I have run marathons before. The last mile is very difficult. You are tired, but you can see the finish line. I can’t wait to get over it and finally reach a more manageable situation.

The interview was conducted in English and translated. Some comments have been shortened and adapted for the sake of clarity and brevity.

 
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