A child is vaccinated against Covid in Israel. / R.C.

Spain gives green light to coronavirus jabs for children aged between 5 and 11

The national Public Health Commission has approved the start of the vaccination campaign for the age group with a "safe and effective" vaccine, according to paediatricians

JOSÉ ANTONIO GUERRERO

Spain’s Public Health Commission, which brings together experts from the Ministry of Health and the regions, has today, 7 December, approved the coronavirus vaccination of children aged between 5 and 11 years old (some 3.2 million), which will begin in mid-December.

From 13 December Spain is expecting a shipment of 3.3 million doses of the paediatric vaccine against Covid-19 from Pfizer with som 1.3 million in December and 2 million in January.

Now it will be the regions that will decide how to distribute the doses, and if they will give priority to risk groups first (children with chronic diseases, obesity, diabetes etc) or if they will do so by age groups, starting with the oldest, for example. They will also have to decide if the doses will be administered in health centres, vaccination centres, or even schools - although the latter may be more complicated because of the Christmas holidays.

What is known is that the regimen will be two doses separated by a period of three weeks (there are countries like Canada that are 8 weeks instead of 21 days). Pfizer has designed an orange cap to differentiate the paediatric from the adult formulas.

Throughout 2022 it is expected that the vaccine for children under 5 years of age will arrive, which has not yet authorised by the EMA because clinical trials in this age group have not been concluded.

Parents' fears

The vaccine for children has raised concerns from some parents who fear the side effects of the injections in their children. Paediatricians have, however, called for calm and have encouraged parents to vaccinate their children because the Pfizer vaccine is "effective and safe" as confirmed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Francisco Álvarez, coordinator of the vaccination advisory committee of the Spanish Paediatric Association (AEP), pointed out.

No zero risk

Álvarez said that although Covid in children under 12 years of age presents, in general, with mild and asymptomatic symptoms, there is no zero risk. “Since the pandemic began, we have had 17 deaths of children under 10 years of age and more than 180 admissions to intensive care units. Compared with the total 3.2 million children, they are not many, but there is never zero risk", underlines the expert.