A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is prepared at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is prepared at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Health Canada maintains getting immunized ASAP with any vaccine offered is best

Dr. Supriya Sharma said the risk of a new vaccine-induced blood clotting syndrome is extremely low

Health Canada’s chief medical adviser says her advice has not changed to go get vaccinated as soon as you can, with whatever vaccine you can.

Dr. Supriya Sharma said the risk of a new vaccine-induced blood clotting syndrome from the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot or Johnson & Johnson is extremely low, and for many Canadians, even those who might think their risk of getting COVID-19 is low, there is a big benefit to getting vaccinated as soon as they can.

“You know, what I say is that if your life is in danger, and you need to call 911, to get help to save your life, it does not matter if that call is made on an iPhone or a Samsung or even a flip phone,” she said. “It does what it is supposed to do.”

She said if you have access to any of the vaccine options at the same time, “absolutely there may be an advantage” to going with the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna because they don’t carry any risk of blood clots.

But if you have to wait for Pfizer or Moderna and can get AstraZeneca now, getting immunized now is a good choice, she said, noting it takes at least two weeks for a vaccine’s full effect to take place.

Sharma was speaking Wednesday at a briefing to announce that Health Canada has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids as young as 12, effective immediately. Canada is the first in the world to do so, though the U.S. is expected to follow next week, and the United Kingdom and Europe are also reviewing the data.

The vaccine was previously authorized for anyone at least 16 years of age or older. Pfizer applied to Health Canada on April 16 to expand that to 12 to 15 years old, after a clinical trial reported the vaccine to be 100 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in that age group.

It is the first vaccine approved for children in Canada, and Sharma says it is a significant step forward in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

“It will also support the return to a more normal life for our children, who have had such a hard time over the past year,” she said.

Sharma said it will now be up to provinces to decide how and when to expand vaccinations to youth.

Her advice to adults to get vaccinated with the first shot offered is the same guidance she has given from the beginning of Canada’s vaccination efforts, but is not the same as that given earlier this week by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

NACI said given the risk of blood clots from AstraZeneca and J&J, people who are at lower risk of contracting COVID-19, or low risk of severe illness from it, can choose to wait for one of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

Sharma did not directly comment on NACI’s advice. But she said every vaccine in Canada has been authorized because they are safe and effective.

“If a vaccine is offered to you it is a good option,” she said.

The risk of blood clots is real and serious but extremely rare, she said.

“We always have to weigh those risks against the risks of potentially getting COVID-19,” she said. “We still say your best choice is to protect yourself by getting vaccinated. That helps protect your family, your community and helps us get to a place where we will have more control over COVID-19.”

READ MORE: What do you do if you think you have VITT? What we know of the rare clotting disorder

About one-fifth of all Canada’s COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in children and teenagers, and while they are less likely to experience severe disease, Sharma said protecting them also protects the people around them.

She said Pfizer told Health Canada to expect an application to approve the vaccine for use on kids between five and 11 years old by September.

Health Canada says nine children under the age of 19 have died of COVID-19. Another 851 were admitted to hospital with the virus, and 145 needed critical care.

But the social isolation associated with school closures, cancelled activities, and bans on play dates with friends have led to significant increases in mental health problems in Canada’s youth.

Numerous pediatricians and children’s hospitals have reported higher rates of suicide attempts, depression, anxiety, and compulsive disorders in Canadian kids in the last year.

The Pfizer trial used the same size doses, and the same two-dose requirement, as the vaccine for adults.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read