A regional health authority in British Columbia apologized after admitting that 12 children were given the Moderna vaccine, which is yet to be approved for use in those under 18, as the child vaccination campaign kicked off.
Vancouver Coastal Health, a regional health authority that serves one in four residents of British Columbia, Canada, has confirmed that 12 children were given the wrong vaccine on Friday and Saturday last week, as teenagers in the province became eligible for vaccination.
Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been cleared for use in children aged 12 to 17 in Canada. However, officials said they do not expect the children to develop any adverse side effects, noting that Moderna claimed recently, citing preliminary data, that their vaccine protects children the same as it protects adults, while triggering similar side effects.
Children from 12 to 17, around 310,000 people, became part of British Columbia’s vaccine rollout on May 20. Although young children are considered to be at lower risk of developing Covid-19 complications, and are less likely to spread the disease compared to adults, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at the time that by vaccinating children, the government seeks to reduce “the overall transmission of Covid in the population.”
According to data from Health Canada, Canadians under 19 account for 18.9% of the total Covid-19 cases, trailing only the 20-29 age group. However, only 1.8%, or 1,245 teenagers, were hospitalized, including 11 who died from the disease – the lowest percentage of all age groups.
As of last week, a little more than half of Canada’s total population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Fewer than 5% have been fully vaccinated, however.
Last week, Health Canada approved the use of 45,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses past their original expiry date. Canada’s Ministry of Health said the doses can be used until July 1, citing assurances from AstraZeneca that they would still be safe and efficient past the expiry date of May 31.