COVID-19 vaccine now available for children aged 5-11
November 24, 2021
Information on dosing, spacing, consent, and verifying identity.
The following is a message from Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta:
Starting this week, pediatric doses of Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine will be available to children 5 to 11 years of age in Alberta. A complete series (two doses) of the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine (10 mcg pediatric formulation) may be offered to children 5-11 years of age who do not have contraindications to the vaccine.
In addition, Alberta has adopted the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization (AACI) on optimal intervals between the first and second dose of a two-dose primary COVID-19 vaccine series:
- For children 5 to 11 years of age, the dose interval should be at least 8 weeks between dose 1 and dose 2 of the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine.
- For Albertans aged 12 years and older, the recommended interval between dose 1 and dose 2 is now 8 weeks for an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax); and at least 8 weeks for the AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine, noting that mRNA vaccines are recommended over viral vector vaccines.
Clinical information on Pfizer BioNTech Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine can be found on the biological pages of the Alberta Immunization Policy.
With the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 now available in Alberta, there are some important points pharmacy teams should consider before administering the vaccine.
Generally, children under age 18 years need a parent or guardian to give consent for them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
In some cases, children under age 18 years, who are a mature minor may be able to give their own informed consent. A “mature minor” MAY receive a COVID-19 vaccine without the consent of a parent or guardian (See our Link article from May 26, 2021).
ACP does not foresee any circumstances where a child between the ages of five and 11 years would be considered mature enough to make an informed choice about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Therefore, consent must be sought from the child’s parent or guardian before administering the vaccine to any child under 12.
It is also the pharmacy team’s responsibility to ensure that there is a parent or guardian relationship between the child receiving the vaccine and the accompanying adult. The pharmacy team should also verify the identity of the parent or guardian and the child receiving the vaccine.
While it’s important to ensure access to these services, there are ways to verify an individual’s identity without being a barrier to care. For example, asking for photo identification (ID) is a good first step to identify patients who are unknown to you. If a patient does not have photo ID, the pharmacist may refer to Netcare and could ask an individual for secondary identifiers such as their birthdate and address.
Additionally, as part of their assessment, the pharmacist can confirm what other medications the individual is currently taking.
See our Link article from October 27, 2021, for more on confirming the identity of patients receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.
For more information on the consent required to collect, use, or disclose personal health information, refer to page 21 of ACP’s Helping pharmacists and pharmacy technicians understand the Health Information Act.
Now that eligibility requirements have changed, all Albertans aged five years and older are encouraged to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.