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

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

lotto max logo
Are you the lucky winner?

A $1 million ticket was bought in Burns Lake for Friday’s Lotto… Continue reading

The 2021 Walk to End ALS took place in Burns Lake on June 19. A walk around the LDSS track and a draw for the quilt made by Jenny Pirie was organized by Ronda Payne for her friend Barb Wilson. Wilson was diagnosed with ALS in 2016. The draw raised roughly $6,300 from all across Canada, with tickets being bought from as far as Ontario. Burns Lake local won Patti Dube won the draw and the quilt. The money raised will now go to the ALS Society which in turn will be going towards more ALS research and for ALS Societies to provide support to other individuals and families living with this disease. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
VIDEO: Walk to End ALS held in Burns Lake

The 2021 Walk to End ALS took place in Burns Lake on… Continue reading

Grad 2021 parade through the village. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
VIDEO: LDSS graduation 2021 parade in Burns Lake

Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS) in Burns Lake had a graduation parade… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Most Read