Belgium to start vaccinating children from September, taskforce says
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Belgium to start vaccinating children from September, taskforce says

Credit: Belga

If the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for children from 12 years old, Belgium will start vaccinating them in September.

At the start of April, BioNTech submitted its application for emergency approval of its vaccine for children between 12 and 15 years old in the US, the company’s CEO Uğur Şahin told German newspaper Der Spiegel, adding that the application to EMA will follow soon.

Earlier, the EMA already gave permission for 16-year-olds to be vaccinated.

“We also vaccinate people over 16 who are interning at a hospital or residential care home,” Gudrun Briat of Belgium’s Vaccination Taskforce told De Tijd, adding that the studies are now rounding off younger age groups.

While Şahin said that the vaccine would become available to children in Europe from June, Briat stated that Belgium would start vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds in September at the earliest.

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“If the EMA approves 12 to 15-year-olds, phase three of [Belgium’s] vaccination campaign can also be started,” she said, stressing that there is still a long way to go.

“We do not know whether a new vaccine against variants will be necessary, and we also need to finish off the other age groups first,” Briat said. “Only after all 18-year-olds have been vaccinated, we can switch to children.”

While the first studies show that children are well protected against Covid-19 by the vaccine, they take quite a long time, precisely because they worked with children, according to her.

“They are preceded by a large ethical component,” Briat added. “Additionally, a delay in the delivery of vaccines could also still be a problem for us.”

In early March, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also stated that children would be vaccinated against the coronavirus after the summer, but did not announce an exact date for the rollout for under-18s.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times