COVID-19 Vaccine Approved by Health Canada now approved for kids six months to 5

Update: July 15, 2022

On Thursday, July 14, 2022 Health Canada approved the Moderna Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine for children aged six months to five years old. This makes approximately 1.7 million Canadian children eligible for vaccination. Health Canada has authorized a two-dose primary series of 25 micrograms each, with the second dose to be administered 4 weeks after the first dose. This is half the dose authorized for children six to eleven years old and one quarter of the dose authorized for people over twelve years of age.

Clinical trials were conducted during the Omicron surge and demonstrated that the vaccine is well-tolerated and had comparable efficacy to those in other age cohorts. While there is no specific information on children six months to five years old with type 1 diabetes, the vaccine is considered safe and effective. JDRF recommends speaking to your healthcare professionals if you have any questions or require more information.

Read more here:


On Friday, November 19, 2021, Health Canada approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children 5-11 years old.  

Parents now have the option to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.  

Having type 1 diabetes (T1D) itself does not increase the risk of contracting the virus. As with any virus, however, there is the possibility for more severe health outcomes for kids with T1D, including hospitalization  and increased potential for both hypo and hyperglycemic episodes.  

As well, some children who contracted COVID-19 developed a rare but serious condition known as Multi Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). MIS-C results in the severe inflammation of some organs and tissues — like the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, digestive system, brain, skin, or eyes. Children, including those with T1D, can lower their risk of serious complications by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The goal is always to try and prevent your child from getting ill in the first place. And with most kids back in school and activities, the possibility of encountering the coronavirus increases. The greater the number of people who are vaccinated, the lower the potential for community spread. 

How are the children’s vaccines different? 

The vaccine dose for children 5-11 is lower than the 12+ dosage – 10mcg versus 30mcg. Clinical trials with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine demonstrated significant antibody development at this dosage relative to the adult dose, showing a 90.7% efficacy against the virus

The dosing schedule for Canadian children will be eight weeks between doses, as opposed to the three-week schedule currently being applied in the United States. NACI, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, has recommended this dosing schedule under the assumption that it increases antibodies and may potentially lengthen the period between the second dose and antibodies waning. 

It’s important to maintain the same measures (masking, handwashing, social distancing) between the two doses to try and prevent infection before the full series has been administered. 

What if there are vaccine side effects? 

Children may experience the same side effects as many adults: fatigue, muscle aches and chills, slight fever with headaches, and arm soreness. 

Some adults with T1D found that the vaccine affected their blood sugar levels. Make sure to check your child’s blood sugar levels more frequently in the first few days after the vaccine to monitor for any potentials highs or lows that can be quickly managed. 

When will vaccines be available for kids under five? 

In September 2021, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla announced that data on the COVID-19 vaccine for children between two and four years old should be available by the end of the year.  

They are also currently running trials for infants six months to toddler (two-years-old), but there has been no announced timeline on when data from these trials will be made publicly available.  

Until such time as full approval comes for all age groups, even after vaccination, it’s important to continue to maintain the same public health measures as before, masking in indoor spaces, good hygiene and handwashing, and limited interactions with crowds. 

As with all health decisions, reach out to your child’s healthcare team to come to the decision that is best for your family. 

Additional resources: 
Canadian Pediatric Society: 

Health Canada: 

Vertex Pharmaceuticals announces they have acquired ViaCyte

On Monday July 11, 2022, Vertex Pharmaceuticals announced they acquired ViaCyte for $320 million in cash to help speed up the development of VX-880, Vertex’s stem cell-derived therapy for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

What does this mean for Canadians living with type 1 diabetes?

T1D is an autoimmune disorder where the body destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce the insulin hormone. People with T1D must administer external insulin, either through injection, pen or pump in order to survive. One of the pathways to cures for T1D is through beta cell replacement therapies that allow the body to start producing its own insulin again, limiting or ideally entirely removing the need for externally administered insulin.

What does this acquisition mean for type 1 diabetes beta cell replacement research?

Per the joint press release, this deal provides Vertex with access to ViaCyte’s:

  • Complementary assets.
  • Capabilities and technologies including additional human stem cell lines.
  • Intellectual property around stem cell differentiation.
  • Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) manufacturing; and
  • Access to novel hypoimmune stem cell assets via the ViaCyte collaboration with CRISPR Therapeutics.

Advancing beta cell research

This acquisition brings together the two highly innovative companies pursuing cell replacement therapies as a transformative and potentially curative approach for people with T1D.

Vertex and ViaCyte have been working independently to develop cell replacement therapies for people with T1D. This deal will allow them to combine their resources, technologies, and intellectual property, and position Vertex to move cures to market faster.

Both companies currently have in human clinical trials for the stem cell therapies. These require implantation of beta cells into the liver to see if they will encourage the body to start producing its own insulin again.

VX-880 is a “naked” cell therapy that requires the recipient to use immunosuppressive therapy, like other organ or tissue transplants. ViaCyte is testing two stem cell-derived replacement therapies and a CRISPR gene-editing technology for cell replacement that wouldn’t require immunosuppression after implantation.

What is JDRF’s role?

JDRF support has been crucial to getting to this point where both companies have cell replacement therapies in human clinical trials.

JDRF has provided long-time and significant support of ViaCyte through research funding. JDRF support includes the first ever clinical trial to test a stem cell-derived cell replacement therapy for T1D, in 2014.

Vertex’s phase I/II clinical trial of VX-880 was made possible by Dr. Doug Melton’s years of JDRF-funded research and an investment from the T1D fund in Semma Therapeutics—a biotech company founded by Dr. Melton to develop a stem cell-derived islet therapy for T1D—which was acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

JDRF and all its affiliates have been leaders in stem cell research and have collectively provided funding of over $150 million since 2000, as part of JDRF’s cell therapies program.

Additionally, the T1D Fund has aggressively invested alongside private venture capital firms in the beta cell replacement field.

As part of JDRF’s funding support to cure research, the goal has been to accelerate multiple approaches to cell therapies. Today, 50+ companies and research groups, including Vertex and ViaCyte, are advancing cell replacement development and cures with JDRF support and through the JDRF Beta Cell Replacement Consortium. Vertex’s acquisition of ViaCyte will ideally encourage other companies in this space to evaluate and modify their programs with the goal of finding cures faster.

Both ViaCyte and Vertex have clinical trials currently active in Canada, out of the University of Alberta and McGill respectively.

To learn more about JDRF funded clinical trials actively recruiting in Canada, please click here.

JDRF will continue to monitor the results of VX-880 and report back with updates as they become available.

Armour Transport Systems Reaches Million-Dollar Milestone for Type 1 Diabetes Research

It often starts with one and becomes a reality with the support of many: one step to begin a walk, one truck to build a transport empire, and one idea to create a leading global charity.  

Like JDRF, Armour Transport Systems arose from humble beginnings in the 1940s, when Mr. Gordon Armour used his truck to haul hay and gravel out of a small farming community near Moncton, New Brunswick. It is now one of Canada’s leading transportation specialists, servicing locations throughout North America. The company is also known for its generous community support of health, youth, and education initiatives, and JDRF is honoured to be Armour’s long-standing charity of choice. 

From monthly employee giving programs, to special raffles and fundraisers, and partnering with JDRF for the Sun Like Walk to Cure Diabetes in Moncton, Armour Transport Systems has made a remarkable impact on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Armour recently reached $1 million in giving with their ongoing commitment to the Moncton Walk, which they have supported since 2003. 

“Diabetes has had an impact on many of us here at Armour which is why our employees have been so passionate about raising funds for this important cause,” says Ruby Murphy-Collins, Chief Operating Officer, Armour Transport Systems.  

For the T1D community in Moncton, which includes Jasmine LeBlanc, co-chair of the 2022 Moncton Walk, Armour’s consistent giving provides hope for a better future for everyone living with T1D. This future ultimately includes a cure for T1D, but in the immediate term also means improved treatments and more equitable access to life-saving diabetes technologies like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), especially in Atlantic Canada, where there is limited public coverage. 

“Armour’s support is amazing – they have been such a big part of our Walk here in Moncton for so many years,” says Jasmine. “Their funding to support diabetes research will make a difference and help lead to a cure for the kids who are newly diagnosed today. And it’s not too late for me either.”

Jasmine was diagnosed at the age of seven and has been living with T1D for just over 20 years. Since her diagnosis, the Walk has provided her with a meaningful space to connect with the T1D community and volunteer her time.

With the pandemic sidelining in-person events for two years, Jasmine, her fellow co-chair Judy Roy, and about 70 others were thrilled to reconnect on a beautiful day at the 2022 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes in Moncton. 

The same was true one province over in Bedford, Nova Scotia, where Brad Price, a longtime Armour employee and the current VP of Operations, attended the Halifax region Walk. To celebrate the company’s $1-million legacy of support, JDRF presented Brad with a certificate of appreciation – a small token of recognition for Armour’s tremendous support.

We would like to thank Armour Transport Systems and the communities in Moncton and Atlantic Canada for being such stalwart JDRF supporters throughout the years. Together, with their help we get ever closer to a world free from type 1 diabetes.