Written by CNN Staff, New York
Health Canada has approved the first national vaccine against a rare but deadly infection that’s ever been made.
The chemical, called CAP-19, is made by US-based company BioLung Global. It’s the first vaccine against cystic fibrosis, and is likely to become the first one available to Canadian children.
The vaccine is expected to be made available next year.
A manufacturer for the vaccine has not yet been announced.
Along with the drug, the approval means that all children aged five to 11 will be eligible for free routine respiratory treatments like chest compressions, antibiotics and other preventive measures.
The same rules will apply to medical exemption certificates — meaning doctors can no longer grant a medical exemption to vaccines given to children who haven’t first been diagnosed with a qualifying health condition.
“By making CAP-19 available, Canada will lead the world in reducing exposure to CF, which is the most common genetic disease among Canadians,” Dr. Penny Goldstein, executive director of the CF Trachoma Foundation, said in a statement.
The protein “spores” in CF patients are dangerous because they can trigger lung infections and inflammation that can lead to infection and organ failure.
Medical exemptions will still be available — but doctors will have to apply in writing to Health Canada for an exemption, and provide a doctor’s note as proof. They’ll also be able to rule out children having special needs, like whooping cough, chicken pox or measles.
The new vaccine will be available as part of the national immunization schedule, alongside four previously approved vaccines that include hepatitis B and meningococcal B vaccines, as well as pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae type b.
Cases of invasive CF have steadily declined in Canada, thanks to better treatment and standard pediatric care, Health Canada said.
“However, since most CF cases begin before age 1, and most are not diagnosed until 5 years or later, there is significant potential for the disease to become more severe and life-threatening, and for the prevalence of the disease to increase,” it said.