Belgium expects the first batch of 186,000 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for children next week, meaning that those under 12 years old could start getting vaccinated in January.
The vaccines for children have a different composition and dosage than the vaccines for adults, Dirk Dewolf of the Vaccination Taskforce told the Belga News Agency on Friday.
“We are now awaiting the advice of the Superior Health Council,” Dewolf said, adding that a decision by the Interministerial Conference (IMC) on Health is expected by Friday 17 December.
If the official green light is given, which Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke stated he assumes will be the case, the first invitations can go out at the end of the year, and vaccinations can start in January.
“As with adults, the vaccine will not be compulsory,” said Dewolf.
Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one that has been approved for use in children by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Like for older groups, the vaccine will be administered with two shots, three weeks apart.
In total, it concerns some 490,000 children between 5 and 11 years old. The place of vaccination will be decided locally, and could happen in the local vaccination centre, or in another “child-friendly location.”
In the meantime, virologist Steven Van Gucht has been at the forefront of arguing in favour of the vaccination of young children against Covid-19, especially as infections spread rapidly through primary schools resulting in various measures being imposed in schools and extracurricular activities being restricted.
“I hope this will be possible next year and that many parents will sign their child up; vaccinating children in itself is not anything new,” he told The Brussels Times last week, adding that this would give children some breathing space.