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

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
‘Stay-at-home mom’ works to raise $25K to help Options build housing in Surrey

Tammy Bourelle boosts ‘Women of Options’ fundraising campaign, which ends June 30

Surrey Libraries will host a series of free contests and programs for teenagers this summer. (Malin Jordan photo)
Surrey Libraries offering series of free summer programs for teens

Writing contests, virtual programs scheduled throughout summer

Emergency crews responded to a large truck fire under the Alex Fraser Bridge around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Christine Tobias/Twitter photo)
Dog dies in truck fire under Alex Fraser Bridge

No people were injured in blaze that consumed two semi-trucks around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 17

Four Surrey students (from left) Charlize Abban from Guildford Park, Mekdim Dereje from North Surrey, Chelsea Michalik from Guildford Park and Sarah Sohail from L.A. Matheson, are some of the latest recipients of $40,000 Cmolik Foundation (Photos: surreyschools.ca)
Four Surrey students receive $40K Cmolik scholarships

Students are from Guildford Park, L.A. Matheson and North Surrey

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Surrey ranks eighth in Top-10 list of cities of the future in the Americas

This is according to the Financial Times’ fDi Magazine, a bi-monthly publication out of London, England with a circulation of 15,488

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

Audrey Inouye (right) with her two sons Kiyoshi McMillan (left) and Kaito McMillian drop off her milk to hospital volunteer Sylvia Hendel at a human milk depot on October 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Fraser Health appeals for breast milk after unexplained drop in donations

Give your breast milk and save newborn lives, the health authority is encouraging mothers

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ B.C. plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

Most Read