Germany will begin offering coronavirus vaccines for all children and adolescents 12 years of age and older, top health officials said Monday.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said after a meeting with the 16 German state health ministers that “we keep our promise: everyone who wants to can get vaccinated in the summer; we have enough vaccines for all age groups.”
“Therefore, children and adolescents … can decide to get vaccinated after a medical consultation and thus protect themselves and others,” he added.
The government’s push to vaccinate Germany’s youth comes two months after the European Medicines Agency recommended that the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech be expanded to children ages 12-15. Last week, the EU drug regulator also approved the vaccine made by Moderna for the same age group.
However, until now, the country’s permanent vaccination committee, the Stiko, has been reluctant to give the green light to all young people and only explicitly recommended vaccination for the age group between 12 and 16 if they suffer from certain chronic diseases. The committee says there are not yet enough study results on the vaccine’s potential long-term effects in the very young, but has also said it may update its recommendation as more data becomes available.
But as schools across the country are beginning to reopen after the summer break, and given the vulnerability of unvaccinated young people to the rapidly spreading delta variant, pressure has increased to vaccinate more children. 12 years or older. Politicians have been pushing for younger people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 quickly to avoid new school closings in the fall.
Therefore, the state’s 16 top health officials decided Monday that healthy children and adolescents should now also be able to receive the injection at vaccination centers or at their pediatricians’ offices. As for all age groups, vaccinations remain voluntary.
So far, 20% of people between the ages of 12 and 17 have received at least one vaccine in Germany and almost 10% are fully vaccinated.
The country’s family minister said the decision “is an important step so that children and adolescents can be protected from a coronavirus infection in the best possible way.”
“Many parents have been unsure whether they should vaccinate their children because until now there was no clear recommendation,” added Christine Lambrecht. “Deciding on a wide range of vaccination for people between the ages of 12 and 17 can now help them.”
There are large disparities in access to vaccination for young people across Europe. While countries such as Estonia, Denmark and France are actively encouraging families to vaccinate their children before the new school year begins, others such as Sweden and the United Kingdom have yet to start mass vaccinations for those under 18 years of age.
Also on Monday, state health ministers decided to start offering booster vaccines for especially vulnerable groups in September. They said that everyone who got vaccinated with the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson injections could get a catch-up shot with an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna starting in September.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism