The World Health Organization's advisory panel on Friday recommended extending the use of a reduced dosage of Pfizer and German partner BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 years old.
The recommendation comes after the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunization held a meeting on Wednesday to evaluate the companies' vaccine. The vaccine is currently recommended for use in people aged 12 years and above.
The recommended dosage for the younger population is 10 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms offered to those 12 years and older.
"This age group (5-11) is in the lowest priority use group for vaccination except for children who have co-morbidities," SAGE chairman Alejandro Cravioto said.
The panel also recommended that booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine should be administered 4 to 6 months after the completion of the primary series, in high-priority groups like older adults and health workers.
Israel's Health Ministry meanwhile told the country's health maintenance organizations on Thursday to begin rolling out the third dose for children aged 5-11 at risk of developing serious symptoms from coronavirus.
Dr. Emilia Anis, director of the ministry's epidemiology department, sent a letter with the instruction to begin giving booster to this group, which began receiving their first and second shots before other children in the same age group. Anis wrote that the booster should be given to the children three months after their second shot.
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In July, the Health Ministry began allowing the vaccination of kids aged 5-11 with serious underlying health problems, including extreme obesity, serious chronic lung conditions, a highly compromised immune system, neurodevelopmental disorders, and congestive heart failure.
At that point, vaccinations for members of this group had to be approved individually. The ministry emphasized that its policy was to restrict approval to those with a maximum level of risk of serious illness.
Approval for vaccinating all children aged 5-11 was given on November 10, meaning that this group is still at least a month away from being able to get a booster – if it is approved at all.