COVID-19 vaccines for younger kids could be coming to B.C. by late summer: Bonnie Henry

COVID-19 vaccines may be available for younger kids in B.C. in the coming months, the province's top doctor announced this week.

Dr. Bonnie Henry gave an update on vaccines in the province Tuesday, saying Health Canada is reviewing data submitted by Moderna, and may soon approve vaccines for kids aged six months to five years. Vaccines are currently available for anyone aged five and older.

 

Henry suggested vaccines could be available for younger children “as early as late summer.”

“So that’s something to look forward to,” she said. 

Henry said vaccinations aren't likely effective for babies younger than six months, but added they may not be necessary if the birthing parent was vaccinated.

"We do know that the developing immune system probably doesn't respond to vaccination and has some protection from the mother up to about six months," she said.

According to a situation report from late March, just over 12,800 children aged four and younger have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The report showed about 300 children in that age group were hospitalized for COVID-19. Two died since the start of the pandemic.

Among elementary school children, aged five to 11, just under 24,800 had tested positive as of that report. More than 18,000 secondary school children, aged 12 to 17, tested positive since January 2020.

The March report said 56 per cent of those aged five to 11 and 89 per cent of those aged 12 to 17 had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. Thirty-seven per cent in that younger group and 85 per cent in the 12-to-17-year-old range had received two shots.

Unvaccinated children aged five to 11 were 3.3 times more likely to end up in hospital if they got COVID-19 than their vaccinated peers, the report said, while those aged 12 to 17 were 3.8 times more likely to be hospitalized if they were unvaccinated.

Both Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged British Columbians of all ages to get vaccinated when they're able to. 

"Haven't got your first dose? Get your first dose," Dix said Tuesday. "If you haven't got your second dose, get your second dose. If you haven't got your third dose, get your third dose."

While more than 4.35 million people across the province have received two doses of vaccine, only 2.72 million have received a third so far, according to the latest data available on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel