TORONTO — Health Canada has authorized a second COVID-19 vaccine for use in older children.
The agency said Friday that it considers Moderna’s vaccine to be “safe and effective at preventing COVID-19” in children between the ages of 12 and 17.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved for the same age group in May.
The Moderna vaccine has been approved for use in adults over the age of 18 by Health Canada since December 2020.
Just as in adults, the health agency said children should be given two doses of the mRNA vaccine scheduled one month apart for maximum protection against COVID-19.
According to clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 100 per cent effective in participants aged 12 to 17 years old two weeks after their second dose.
By comparison, Health Canada said the Moderna vaccine was 94.1 per cent effective in trial participants over the age of 18.
Although children are less likely to become really ill from COVID-19, the health agency stressed the importance of having them vaccinated because they can still get sick, be infected and not have any symptoms, spread the virus to others, and may experience long-term effects if they do contract it.
Children and youth with underlying medical conditions may also have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, Health Canada said.
The agency added that millions of people between the ages of 12 to 17 have already received COVID-19 vaccines in Canada and that a high rate of coverage is key for controlling the spread of the virus and ending the pandemic.
There is still no COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in children under the age of 12 in Canada. Health Canada said clinical trials are currently underway to determine the safety and effectiveness for those in this age group.