Sunday, June 13

Health plans to vaccinate adolescents and young people before the course begins


A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19.
A. Pérez Meca

The Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities have still pending the debate on the advisability of vaccinate adolescents before the school year begins, or when appropriate by age shift. According to the National Institute of Statistics, there are almost four million Spaniards: there are a total of 3,948,296 young people who are part of the age group between 12 and 19 years old.

In a joint press conference with the Minister of Education, Isabel Celaá, the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, explained that the idea would be to include this point in the vaccination strategy if so agreed by the Interterritorial Health Council, after a debate in the Commission of Public Health and the Presentation of Vaccines. In fact, in the council held on Wednesday, Extremadura and other autonomous communities defended the vaccination with Pfizer doses to the population between 12 and 16 years of age before the start of the next course. In contrast, health representatives from other communities opposed an advance and advocated continuing the vaccination process by age groups, so that, “when it comes” the turn of this youth group, they proceed to their vaccination.

In the last three weeks, this group aged 10-19 was one of those with a greater number of infections and a higher cumulative incidence, although it has decreased in that period from 95 to 78.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. However, epidemiological data in Spain show that people aged 50 to 59 years, 40 to 49 and 30 to 39 years have a higher risk of hospitalization, ICU admission and death than adolescents and pre-adolescents.

The Junta de Andalucía plans to vaccinate adolescents who study in institutes before the next school year begins in mid-September. Its health authorities estimate that the administration of the two doses in the region to students can be completed in August and September. The vaccination coverage projection made by the Junta de Andalucía in its plan to put one million doses a week includes that 89% of the target population (over 16 years of age) will be immunized on August 1, provided that the arrival forecasts for the next few months.

The Catalan Minister of Education has also announced that students aged 12 to 16 will be vaccinated in the institutes themselves if the immunization schedule for this age group coincides with the start of the course in September, as a way to facilitate the process.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) supported on May 28 the use of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents between 12 and 15 years old, the first preparation that passes European scientific scrutiny for minors and that until now was only authorized in the EU for those over 16 years of age due to the lack of clinical studies that demonstrate its efficacy in other age groups.

Days later, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recalled that older age groups should continue to be prioritized when vaccinating against covid-19 before starting with adolescents. In a report, the ECDC emphasizes that the disease in healthy young people is normally “milder” and considers that before starting to inoculate minors, several factors should be considered, such as the vaccination strategy for the entire population, the status of implementation and its priorities, in addition to the epidemiological situation.


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