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.

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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: 

Exciting news: new Health Canada approved clinical trials

Health Canada has approved clinical trials that could lead the way for cell replacement therapy that does not require immune suppression in people with type 1 diabetes.

JDRF is the leading charitable funder of research into type 1 diabetes in Canada, with a focus on research that will help improve lives today, and lead to disease prevention and cures.

February, 2022 – As the leading charitable funder of type 1 diabetes (T1D) research in Canada, a key focus of JDRF’s strategy is investment in stem cell therapy research for potential T1D cures.

In November, 2021 Health Canada approved clinical trials for ViaCyte, a cell replacement company long supported by JDRF, and CRISPR Therapeutics for a VCTX210, a gene-edited cell replacement therapy for type 1 diabetes (T1D) that doesn’t require immunosuppression.

On February 2, 2022, the companies announced that the first patient was dosed in the phase I study, which will assess the therapy’s safety, tolerability, and immune evasion.

JDRF is very excited about the progress of this clinical trial, and will provide further updates as they become available

On November 16, 2021, ViaCyte, a cell replacement company long supported by JDRF, and CRISPR Therapeutics announced that they will begin clinical trials for a gene-edited cell replacement therapy for type 1 diabetes (T1D) by the end of the year in Canada.

What is cell replacement therapy?

A significant focus of cure-based T1D research is investigating stem cell-based therapy. Researchers look for ways to use stem cells as a renewable source of insulin-producing cells which, when transplanted, would replace the beta cells that are destroyed in a person with T1D, allowing them to produce insulin again. This would lessen or eliminate the amount of external insulin required by someone living with T1D (either by injection, pen, or pump) for months or even decades.

The biggest challenges to stem cell replacement therapy are identifying the appropriate stem cell source (i.e., pancreatic cells, or liver cells) and ensuring that they both function well and will not be rejected by the recipient’s immune system. Much like a transplanted organ – most stem cell replacement therapies require immunosuppressing medications to prevent rejection.

What is different about the ViaCyte and CRISPR therapy?

By the end of the year, Viacyte will start a clinical trial of VCTX210, a gene-edited stem cell replacement therapy for T1D. Combining ViaCyte’s stem cell expertise with CRISPR Therapeutics’ pre-eminent gene-editing platform offers significant potential in the development of a cell replacement therapy that does not require immune suppression.

The phase I clinical trial will begin this year in Canada, and will evaluate the safety, efficacy, and immune evasiveness of the therapy, and will be the first time a gene-edited cell replacement therapy will be tested in people with T1D.

ViaCyte has previously demonstrated that their stem cell-derived beta cells, (which JDRF globally funded the development of), make insulin when transplanted into people with T1D. Now, CRISPR has applied their gene-editing technology to make these cells immune-evasive – meaning that they should not require immunosuppression to prevent rejection – a huge development in making the therapy more universally accessible to people with T1D.

What is JDRF’s role?

JDRF globally has been a long-time and significant supporter of ViaCyte, supporting the company through research funding, including funding 15 years ago (when ViaCyte was called CyThera) that underwrote development of the proprietary line of precursor stem cells used in their treatment.

This clinical trial is one of several potential beta cell replacement cures therapies JDRF is currently funding or supporting.

What does this mean for Canadians with T1D?

JDRF will be closely monitoring the results of the phase 1 clinical trial and will report back on results as they become available.