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

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The Victoria woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Days after students’ return to Victoria High School was delayed by a year, the province has announced some amenities that will be included in the school’s expansion project. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Child-care spots, artificial turf field, non-profit space included in Vic High expansion

SD61 now aims to welcome students back at the high school by September 2023

Anita Troop officially turns 100 on Sunday and cards are pouring in from around the world. (Courtesy Marina Miller)
Cards roll in from around the world for West Shore 100 year old

About 100 cards have come for the woman who turns 100 on Sunday

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

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

A cardboard man bearing Queen Elizabeth II’s royal cipher has been placed in a window at the Royal Theatre for at least several days. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Mysterious cardboard figure appears in Victoria’s Royal Theatre window

The identity of the figure, which was moved there amid cleaning, remains unknown

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

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

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

Most Read