Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine approved for kids 5-11 in Manitoba

Children aged five to 11 will soon be able to to get a bivalent COVID-19 booster shot in Manitoba.

Health officials announced the vaccine has been approved for the age group Tuesday, and shots are expected to be available at sites across the province next week.

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Health Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent COVID-19 vaccine for children between five and 11 years of age on Friday.

This is the first bivalent COVID-19 booster approved for use in this age group that targets the original COVID-19 variant and the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants, Health Canada said in a statement.

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Kids aged five to 11 have previously only been eligible for a booster dose with the monovalent Pfizer pediatric vaccine.

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The province is now recommending kids who are due for a booster should get the bivalent shot. Kids in the age group who previously received a booster with the monovalent vaccine do not need to get a second booster with the newly approved vaccine, officials added.

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The province is asking parents to book appointments for their kid’s booster shots for Dec. 23 or later to ensure the bivalent shots are available.

“Public health encourages all Manitobans, including parents and caregivers, to make vaccination a part of holiday planning. Many clinics and other locations will continue to offer vaccinations, by appointment or by walk-in, over the coming weeks,” the province said in a statement.

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“Being up-to-date on all vaccinations, including COVID-19 and seasonal influenza, will help protect people and their families and friends over the holiday season as gatherings and celebrations are held.”

Appointments for the bivalent booster for kids in the age group can be made starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. online or by calling 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC).

Based on updated clinical guidance, everyone aged six months and older can safely get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines including the flu vaccine, Manitoba health officials say.

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Health Canada previously authorized the bivalent shot in early October for individuals aged 12 and older.

“While the formulation for children 5 to 11 years of age is the same, the dose is one-third of that authorized for individuals 12 years of age and older,” the agency said Friday.

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Booster shots are designed to help people maintain their immunity over time. Health Canada notes that evidence continues to show that all mRNA COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada provide protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

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In a statement released on Friday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said COVID-19 cases in Canada have increased in the summer months, and again in the fall.

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According to NACI, the “proportion of Canadian children 5 to 11 years of age vaccinated with a primary series is roughly 40 per cent; however, only five per cent of children in this age group have received at least one booster dose.”

–with files from Aya Al-Hakim

&© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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