The Health Ministry said Tuesday that it is preparing to expand Israel's COVID-19 vaccination drive to children aged 12 to 15 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use overnight.
A statement by the Health Ministry said experts will begin holding discussions on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and submit their recommendations.
Despite the decline in morbidity, there is a desire to approve the vaccination of children. However, this same decline may cause many parents to hesitate to or opt not to vaccinate their kids.
The expansion of the vaccination drive will include some 600,000 children.
At the end of March, Pfizer announced that its vaccine was found to be 100 percent safe and effective in a clinical trial among 2,260 adolescents, half of whom had received the vaccine, and that no serious side effects had been reported.
In Israel itself, about 900 people aged 12 to 15 have been vaccinated so far, after receiving special approval from the Health Ministry due to a health condition that puts them or their family members at increased risk. None of them reported unusual side effects or reactions either.
The vaccine has been available under an emergency use authorization for people as young as 16 in the United States. The vaccine makers said they started seeking full approval for the immunization in people 16 and older last week.
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This is the first COVID-19 vaccine that the FDA has approved for teens ages 12 to 15. The vaccination of teens and children is considered an important step on the way to a full and safe resumption of operations for schools around the world, as well as an important step to fully eradicate the virus.
Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told reporters that states will likely be able to begin vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds after an advisory committee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the expansion on Wednesday.