Covid-19 vaccine approved for children aged 5-11

Decision comes after European Medicines Agency approves Pfizer pediatric vaccine

Child between 12 and 15 receiving his Covid-19 vaccine on August 4, 2021 (by Gemma Aleman)
Child between 12 and 15 receiving his Covid-19 vaccine on August 4, 2021 (by Gemma Aleman) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 7, 2021 12:28 PM

Spain's public health committee has approved the use of the Pfizer pediatric Covid-19 vaccine for children aged between 5 and 11 years old.

On Tuesday morning, the advisory committee followed the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency.

In December, Spain will receive over 1.3 million doses of the vaccine, and another two million in January 2022.

Pfizer proposes administering two doses to children with 28 days between the shots. However, Spain will offer the second dose eight weeks after the first one, with authorities preferring to have as much population as possible with one jab.

In all of Spain, there are 3.3 million children, and currently, this age group is the one with the highest infection rate.

Authorities expect regions to have pediatric vaccines from December 15 after receiving the first doses on Monday, December 13.

The Catalan government announced that the vaccination process will start with children aged 11 years old.

The executive did not say if children will get vaccinated in schools or will need to book appointments as residents aged 12 or higher. 

Learn more about the sixth wave of the Covid pandemic in Catalonia by listening to the latest episode of our podcast Filling the Sink including an interview with Catalonia's Scientific Advisory Committee chair, Dr. Magda Campins.

Benefits outweigh risks

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) "recommended approval" of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 to 11.

The decision came after reviewing the results of a clinical trial involving around 2,000 children that indicate that the vaccine's safety and effectiveness in this age group are comparable to those in people aged 12 and above.

Common side effects, as with adults, were mild and included and tended to go away after a few days. 

Because of this, the EMA said its human medicines committee "concluded that the benefits of Comirnaty in children aged 5 to 11 outweigh the risks, particularly in those with conditions that increase the risk of severe Covid-19."

Mixing jab brands recommended 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have both endorsed mixing Covid-19 vaccine brands for both initial injections as well as booster shots.

The two European health agencies have concluded that this is favourable for a "strengthened" immune response and argue that "it can offer flexibility in vaccination options, especially by reducing the impact on the vaccination campaign if a given vaccine is not available for some reason."

According to a statement from the two bodies, the available evidence points "consistently" to "acceptable tolerance and a strengthened immune response".

Vaccination rollout in Catalonia

As of December 6, 2021, 6,087,464 residents have been given the first dose of the vaccine, 76.8% of the total population. Out of those, 5,296,343 have also been administered a second dose (67% of the total population). 5,977,947 residents are considered to be fully immunized (75.3%). 

Under 65s who have already had the virus are only required to have the first dose, and others have received a single-dose jab. Therefore, the % of two doses administered and % fully immunized do not match.

Booster shots will be given to those between 60 and 69those 70 and overimmunocompromised peoplecare home residents, and anyone who received the Janssen vaccine.

As of December 6, 2021, Catalonia has administered 831,282 booster shots to these groups.