BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany’s vaccination advisory commission STIKO recommended on Thursday that Pfizer-BioNTech’s, COVID-19 vaccine is given to children aged five to 11 with pre-existing conditions and said others could also request it.
STIKO said in a statement that it also recommended the vaccine for children who are in contact with people with a high risk of severe COVID-19, such as the elderly or those with suppressed immune systems.
It noted that the incidence of COVID-19 in this age group is very high, so a large proportion will eventually be infected, although it said children without previous illnesses are at a low risk of severe disease or hospitalisation.
Meanwhile, STIKO said the risk of rare side effects of the vaccination cannot be assessed due to limited data available, which is why it is not making a general recommendation for children under 12 to get the shot.
“Children without previous illnesses can also be vaccinated against COVID-19 after appropriate medical information, provided that there is an individual wish on the part of the children and parents or guardians,” it said.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Nov. 25 cleared for use in younger children a dedicated 10 microgram vaccine version of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot that will be bottled by the manufacturers and delivered in Europe from Dec. 13.
Some German doctors have already begun vaccinating children under 12 with a lower dose of the adult vaccine but many have been waiting for the STIKO ruling, with vaccine campaigns for children ready to launch across the country.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by Kirsti Knolle and Miranda Murray)