COVID-19: Henry stays course on vaccine for children, despite no WHO policy

by David Carrigg
a person sitting on a bench: Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives the latest figures on newly confirmed cases, deaths, recoveries and more.© Provided by Vancouver Sun Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives the latest figures on newly confirmed cases, deaths, recoveries and more.

B.C.’s policy to vaccinate children against COVID-19 is the right thing to do, despite no direction from the World Health Organization, says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Henry said Canada and other countries were immunizing children from 12 to 18 with Pfizer, the only WHO-approved vaccine for use in that age group. However, the WHO hadn’t made general recommendations on vaccinating kids against COVID-19, saying more evidence was needed.

“That’s the decisions we’ve made in Canada and in many other countries,” Henry said. “We know that there has been studies done looking at safety and efficacy in children down to age 12, and there are additional studies being done in children down to six months of age.”

As of Tuesday, 67,775 children between 12 and 18 had received one dose of Pfizer — about 1.5 per cent of all British Columbians who have received at least one dose.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said there were 327,000 doses of Pfizer arriving this week, but after that shipments would be reduced by around two-thirds until resuming later in July.

Pfizer has been the workhorse in the pandemic for B.C., accounting for 68 per cent of all doses, followed by Moderna with 24 per cent. These two mRNA vaccines are among the four approved for use in Canada. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine hasn’t been used yet in Canada, while the AstraZeneca vaccine has fallen out of favour (though 10,000 doses are arriving in B.C. this week).

“As you know, we’ve received a whole bunch of Moderna just in this past week and we are expecting to receive more before the end of June and into early July,” Henry said. “At the same time that we just heard, there’s a delay and some challenges with Pfizer.”

Video: COVID-19: ‘No wrong decision’ in vaccine choice, says Dr. Henry | Vancouver Sun (Vancouver Sun)

Henry reported 21 per cent of adults in B.C. were fully vaccinated with two doses, while 77.7 per cent of adults had received at least one of the 4.5 million doses administered in the province so far. B.C.’s strategy has been to get as many single doses out as possible, as policy on when to administer the second dose changed according to supply. It’s now at eight weeks.

On Tuesday, 80 per cent of the 81,491 doses of vaccine administered in B.C. were second shots.

According to Dix, almost 90 per cent of British Columbians over age 70 had received at least one dose and 55 per cent had received two. In those over age 30, 20 per cent had two doses and 80 per cent a first dose. There have been 4,511,923 doses of the three approved vaccines administered in B.C.

Henry reported 56 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and no deaths. There are 1,039 active cases of COVID-19 in the community, plus 111 being treated in hospital, including 41 in intensive care.

There are three active outbreaks in health-care facilities and so far 1,743 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C.

All key COVID-19 metrics in B.C. are improving.

The B.C. government has once again extended the provincial state of emergency due to the pandemic until July 6.



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