About 100,000 Canadian children have been invited to participate in a $500m trial in which babies will be given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before their first birthday.
This news has earned the Canadian province of Quebec warm responses and recent praise from leading health experts.
Many scientists have been concerned about the global surge in the number of babies who are eligible for influenza vaccine.
Roughly 6,000 children age six months to five years have also been invited to receive the vaccine from one of a number of providers in the country, according to Vox.
Medical studies have shown that one in four children get the flu within the first year of life – which is around the time when their immune systems are being developed.
Doctors are also concerned that the National Influenza Vaccine Initiative (NIVI) programs that have been around for the past 25 years have not been sustained by research funding, according to NPR.
Dr. Jamie Theriault, an infectious disease physician at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, believes the COVID-19 vaccine is a good step forward and has a better chance of working with younger children.
“In the very beginning, childhood, once you get in your early elementary [age], you’re looking for ways to prevent complications. And if that’s done already, then things may be solved,” Dr. Theriault said.
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The Trudeau government announced an election campaign promise to make the vaccine available to parents by next October, while Quebec officials are aiming to have the first vaccine as early as next March.
Some health experts are concerned the vaccine will not reach all children because it is being given in a large group setting.
Tom Skinner, a public health spokesman at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Vox that the vaccine should be available to all children until the end of November.
A vaccine for all children aged six months to 4 years will be available by the end of the year and those two vaccines will be made available in Canada next year.
COVID-19 is a vaccine which has been made by Novartis. According to NHS Choices, other companies could start selling similar vaccines soon, and more might be made available if other Canadian provinces and territories also invest in the vaccine.
The risk of a fatal or life-threatening childhood influenza infection has been declining steadily since the 1960s and therefore research is needed in order to get better protection for children.
A major focus of the medical research that has been carried out since the 1960s is the use of adjuvants, which can increase the safety and efficacy of flu vaccines.
There is much debate over the merits of adjuvants, which are part of the package of antigens or targets a vaccine targets with an active ingredient.
According to Horizon Immunology, an experimental adjuvant, called rimonabant (also known as MTM1), has been given to mice as an ingredient in their influenza A vaccines.
Scientists are planning on testing if these mice’s immune systems will respond to different types of flu after being vaccinated with different types of influenza A.
They are hoping to discover if the muscle cells in mice will attack different strains of the influenza virus after receiving different types of flu vaccines.
The vaccine should enter clinical trials in 2021.
Study author Dr. Michael Stark, a researcher at University of Texas School of Medicine, said the amount of lung protein the mice injected into their bodies responded to rats and similar animals suggests this was happening in humans.
The first trial would take place with a population of children.
If the trial is successful, vaccine scientists will then consider looking at different vaccines to see if they can have more success when applied to other children.
Source: Press Association, CBC, Vox