“Those without comorbidities will be vaccinated according to the modalities planned by the Task Force for the general population during phase 2 of the Belgian campaign. It should be kept in mind that age remains the main driver of the COVID-19 epidemic and that the lower the age group, the smaller the individual benefit of vaccination,” the report stated.
Vaccinating this age group, which represents around 2.16% of the Belgian population, will contribute to increasing the overall percentage of the Belgian population that is vaccinated and the minimum target set by the authorities to vaccinate 70% of the population but will have a limited effect on the pressure on hospitals, as few people of this age group are severely impacted by the virus.
The positive advice from the council was based on the opinions of experts, as well as a review of the scientific literature, published in scientific journals and reports from (inter)national organisations.
In December, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had originally approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for people aged over 16 based on clinical studies, however, Belgium had not yet announced it would be administering the dose in people under the age of 18.
The Supreme Health Council is also considering its recommendations for the vaccination of children aged 12 to 15, however, with the current knowledge, it said it believes that there is still too little data, too many uncertainties and many important ethical and scientific questions regarding vaccination of this age group.
It added that, in this context, it will also look at its recommendations for children aged 12-15 years, but stated that for healthy children, there is still too little data, too many uncertainties and many important ethical and scientific questions, especially when it comes to balancing the benefits with the risks of mass vaccination in younger people.