A child aged 11 receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Montreal, Quebec on November 24, 2021 ( AFP / Andrej Ivanov)

Health authority dismisses claim Canadian child died after Covid-19 vaccination

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Social media posts claim a six-year-old child died near Ottawa, Canada after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. But the local health authority said a review of data from coroners as well as partners at a children's hospital showed the claim is false, and monitoring systems are in place to investigate potential adverse events following vaccination.

"Since the news won't report it, here it is. There's a 6 year old in Barhaven who died after receiving their first dose," says a December 4, 2021 Facebook post.

Screenshot taken on December 7, 2021, shows a Facebook post

The same claim -- which circulated as Ontario expanded its vaccination campaign after the Canadian government authorized use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 shot for children aged five to 11 -- also appeared elsewhere on Facebook and on Twitter.

But Ottawa Public Health, the local health authority, called the claim "misinformation" in a tweet that said reports of the death of a child were "false."

"We have reviewed our records of adverse events following immunizations (AEFI) and connected with partners at @CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario) & the coroners to confirm this information is false. All sources report that no child in Ottawa has died from a Covid-19 vaccine," it said.

Ottawa Public Health linked to a page about vaccine safety on Public Health Ontario's website, which emphasizes that monitoring systems are in place to detect potential adverse events following vaccination, both in adults and children.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and the CHEO did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

The Pfizer-BioNTech messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine for children is 10 micrograms, a lower dose than the 30 micrograms given to people 12 years of age and older. The pharmaceutical company submitted data from clinical trials and Health Canada said it determined that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

The shot was also authorized for use on younger children by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late October. The FDA concluded that "no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study."

Rare cases of heart inflammation (myocarditis and pericarditis) following vaccination with mRNA-based jabs such as Pfizer-BioNTech's or Moderna's have been observed, but the Canadian government says most cases are mild and patients recover quickly.

It says that patients face a higher risk of cardiac complications, including myocarditis, "following SARS-CoV-2 infection."

AFP Fact Check previously examined a misleading claim about pediatric strokes and the Covid-19 vaccine in Canada.