Approval means first fully new flu vaccine for Canada’s health-care system in more than two decades
The Canadian health ministry has approved the first new flu vaccine for children aged five to 11 years for more than two decades.
Health Canada said on Wednesday that it had approved a new gene-based vaccine manufactured by Pfizer Inc and given at various dosage levels, including as a nasal spray.
Canada’s public health agency said in a statement that officials had worked with both Pfizer and Novartis to develop the vaccine as an improved treatment. In November, Health Canada received 10,000 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer for use in community trials.
It added that the flu vaccine would likely not be widely available for people who do not need it until the third quarter of the year, but that local immunization campaigns would begin shortly after that.
In a statement, Pfizer said it was excited to bring an “innovative but well-tested vaccine” to Canada’s public health system. It added that it planned to make additional doses available from public supplier Ontario Maternal and Child Health Coalition.
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Vaccine makers have been required to provide vaccines for children aged six months to five years since 2014 under a new federal health bill.
Flu viruses typically only infect people at the same age as those who get the vaccine. There is an annual advisory from the Canadian microbiology board to apply the vaccine to children when recommended by medical authorities.
Canada is expecting this year’s flu season to be “well characterized” and “very severe”, said Neil Collier, who heads the federal emergency response team, in December.
Data from some of the usual first months of flu season in Canada showed 1.2% of people under 65 had been hospitalized, compared with 0.5% of the adult population, Collier said.