COVID19: EU approves booster jab for teens

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The European Union’s health regulator backs giving a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 and over, as well as the expanded use of Moderna’s shot in children ages six to 11.

The recommendations by the European Medicine Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use will be followed by final decisions by the European Commission.

The moves come after several EU countries have already started to offer booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to teens.

Cyprus has agreed to offer the booster jab to those over 12 who belong to vulnerable or high-risk groups such as cancer sufferers.

Germany’s vaccine committee in January recommended all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a booster following the initial two-shot course.

In a report this month, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that 10 countries in the European Economic Area, which comprises the 27 EU member states plus Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway, had already recommended a booster dose for those under 18 years of age.

Member States’ decision on whether and when to offer boosters in this age group will need to consider factors such as the spread and likely severity of the disease in younger persons and the known risk of side effects like the rare heart complication myocarditis the EMA said.

The agency also recommended approval of Moderna’s COVID vaccine for use in children aged 6 to 11.

Moderna’s Spikevax COVID shot is already approved for use in adults and children aged 12 and over in Europe.

In the United States, the Moderna vaccine is authorized as a primary two-dose regimen and booster dose for adults 18 years and older.

The company has yet to win clearance for use in younger age groups.

The dose of Spikevax in 6- to 11-year-olds will be 50 micrograms instead of the 100 micrograms used for people aged 12 and over.