The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now recommending teenagers with underlying conditions or at high-risk of COVID-19 exposure get a booster shot.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says kids and adolescents are still at low risk of serious illness in general from COVID-19 but because of the high rate of infection due to Omicron more kids are being admitted to hospital.
NACI’s new advice for teenagers between 12 and 17 is to get a booster if they have an underlying medical condition or live in congregate settings or racialized or marginalized communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19 infections.
Health Canada data suggest in the last week 251 children under 12 and 84 adolescents between 12 and 19 years old were admitted to hospital with COVID-19.
Canada’s advice is not as broad as that from the United States Centers for Disease Control which recommended Jan. 5 that all kids between 12 and 17 years old get a booster shot five months after their second dose
Asked why Canada’s recommendations only cover high-risk teens, Tam said that NACI is monitoring the “evolving science” on booster doses and recommended intervals for this age group, but that the majority of teens are well protected against severe disease with two doses of the vaccine.
“A booster dose for the 12 to 17 year olds without the medical or social risk factors is not recommended due to the generally low risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes in adolescents who have received a complete primary series,” she said.
Just over half of Canadian children five to 11 now have at least their first dose of vaccine, while 82 per cent of teens 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated.
— With files from Global News’ Craig Lord
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