LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal on Tuesday recommended that 12 to 15-years-old kids be vaccinated against COVID-19, ideally before the start of the academic year, as the Delta variant has led to a surge of cases in the country.
About 400,000 youth included in that age group will get one of the two vaccines authorized for teenagers by European Union’s medicines regulator: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the Health Authority DGS said.
“The vaccines will be available to adolescents accompanied by parents or legal guardians without the need for a doctor’s prescription,” Health Authority head Graca Freitas said at a news conference.
She added data in the EU and the U.S. have shown no increased risk of rare side effects like myocarditis and pericarditis for the 15 million teenagers who got vaccine shots.
Portugal ramped up vaccination as a new wave of COVID-19 cases hit Portugal early last month to levels not seen since February when the country went into a strict lockdown to tackle what was then the world’s worst coronavirus surge.
Daily deaths and hospitalisations remain well below February levels, with new cases primarily reported among younger, unvaccinated people who are less likely to fall seriously ill.
Portugal reported 2,232 cases and 17 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 990,293 cases and 17,502 deaths since the pandemic started.
Late last month, the country announced a three-stage plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions, including scrapping a night-time curfew and lifting restrictions on the opening hours of restaurants and shops.
(By Patricia Vicente Rua; Editing by Inti Landauro and Bernadette Baum)