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Young Albertans with underlying health conditions now eligible to receive Pfizer vaccine

CALGARY — Albertans born between 2006 and 2009 who have underlying health conditions are now able to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Alberta Health Services approved the vaccine for use in people under 16 years old on Monday.

Health Canada has only authorized the vaccine for use in people 16 years of age, and older, however provinces have the ability to broaden the use of drugs and medications if there is supporting evidence. The decision is considered off-label authorization and Alberta Health Services says it carefully weighed the evidence and determined the benefits of giving young people the Pfizer vaccine outweigh potential risks.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization agrees that the young people with pre-existing health conditions would benefit from getting the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, as they are at a higher risk of experiencing a severe case of COVID-19.

Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s health minister, says the decision is in line with the approach of other provinces. The Ontario government is also using the shot to protect young people in its province.

In Alberta, those between 12 and 15 who have conditions including chronic hearth, lung, liver, or kidney disease, qualify to receive the vaccine. Albertans in the age group who have severe learning or developmental delays, or were diagnosed with cancer in the last year, are also eligible.

Parents or guardians of youth in this category are being asked to speak with their physician, and request a doctor’s note that they can use to book an appointment at a pharmacy or AHS clinic.

Pfizer BioNTech is also applying to expand the licenced age range, and is submitting safety and efficacy data to Health Canada.

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