The British government on February 17 said that all children aged 5-11 will be vaccinated against Covid-19, instead of just limiting vaccination to vulnerable children as before.
The move comes nearly two months after the UK Medicines Regulatory Authority approved the Pfizer vaccine for this age group. The UK lags behind other countries in the European Union (EU) and the US in vaccination programs for teenagers and young children. Previously, this country only vaccinated people under 12 years old at high risk, people with weakened immune systems.
But so far, Health Minister Sajid Javid has accepted guidance from the Joint Committee on Immunization (British advisory body) to expand vaccine deployment.
“The National Health Service (NHS) will open immunization services for children in April. Parents can bring their children in for vaccinations to protect them against possible future outbreaks, as we learn to live with this virus,” said Javid.
According to him, the biggest priority is still vaccination, including booster doses for vulnerable adults and adolescents. He noted that children (not in the group with underlying medical conditions) are less likely to become severely ill after contracting Covid-19.
The US was the first developed country to announce vaccination for children under 12 years old in November 2021. To date, more than 8 million children in this age group have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Pfizer earlier this month said it was seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a vaccine for children 6 months to under 5 years old.
The European Union drug watchdog also approved the vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years old in late November. Some EU countries will vaccinate this age group next month.
Other countries around the world, including Israel, China, and Argentina are also deploying vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 years old. However, Sweden is one of the countries opposed to this strategy, continuing to encourage vaccination only for high-risk children, rather than mass vaccination.
Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old has a dose of 10 micrograms, a third of that of adults. The second dose is given at least 8 weeks after the first dose.
The scientists found that children still have a strong immune response despite low doses of vaccines. The vaccine prevents symptomatic cases of Covid-19 (at least 7 days after the second dose) in volunteers who have never had the virus; The effectiveness in preventing serious illness and death in children is 90.7 percent, according to the FDA.
The dose of the vaccine is based on age and immune system, not on weight. Therefore, children who are overweight or stunted compared to the average weight can still receive the vaccine normally.
Thuc Linh (Follow AFP)