The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will make a decision on Friday on the request that Pfizer has made for its vaccine to be authorized in the EU to be injected into the population between 12 and 15 years old. If, as expected, the agency gives the green light, the Government will lower the minimum age to receive the coronavirus vaccine, which is currently 16 years old, and will include minors between 12 and 15 years old in the vaccination strategy. However, the initial idea is that they do not start getting the punctures for a few months.
To date, vaccines against Covid in Spain are only prescribed from 16 years of age , although the last update of the vaccination strategy exceptionally included adolescents from 12 years of age, provided they have “conditions of very high risk “, with great dependency, who are in centers for people with intellectual disabilities, tutored or special education.
If the EMA authorizes this Friday Pfizer from the age of 12, this situation will change, because the general population from that age will become part of the planning to be vaccinated. What does not seem to be modified is the decision not to “prioritize” minors between 12 and 15 years old. Therefore, they will not be ahead of other age groups, something that could allow, for example, that they are already vaccinated at the beginning of the next course.
For the moment, this is not the idea of Health, but rather that of following with minors between 12 and 15 years of age the same descending strategy by age that is already followed for the rest of the population. That is, their turn would be after the group between 18 and 16 years old . In this scenario, whether they arrive or not immunized at the beginning of the course will depend on the speed of the vaccination process in the age groups that are ahead of them, although it seems complicated.
Vaccines between 5 and 11 years
For the vaccine expert of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), Ángel Hernández-Merino, the question is not so much whether adolescents will start the course vaccinated or not, but that by early September this question is “perfectly raised and decided” to “end the politics of uncertainty and ups and downs.”
As indicated, the vaccination cap against Covid will not remain in 12 years, because the pharmaceutical companies that own the different vaccines are already conducting clinical trials for the population between 5 and 11 years old, whose results will probably not see the light before autumn . For younger ages, Hernández-Merino sees fit to have them “ready”, even if it is not necessary to administer them.
“It is important to have tested and approved vaccines for young children, another thing is that they should be used, maybe it is not necessary, ” says the expert, who indicates that it would only be if, for example, the immunity of larger sections of the population does not was enough.
United States ahead
In any case, it is foreseeable that the vaccination of adolescents in the EU will start in the 12 to 15 year period with the Pfizer vaccine , which is expected to be approved by the EMA.
In a short time, something similar could happen with Moderna’s vaccine , which has also developed a clinical trial that has shown that it is safe and effective in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years , with 93% protection after the second dose. This pharmacist will also request authorization shortly.
Before the EU did, the United States began vaccinating adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 with Pfizer about 10 days ago, at a much faster rate since the Federal Medicines Agency (DFA) ) gave the green light.
As Hernández-Merino points out, “nothing is expected to happen” exceptional in the vaccination of the population between 12 and 15 years of age. “” or there are biological reasons or of experience to think that with 12, 13 or 14 different things happen than between 16, 20 or 30 years, “the expert abounds.
Young or vulnerable
However, the safety and efficiency of vaccines among the adolescent population is not the only aspect in the debate around whether they should also be vaccinated against Covid. According to Health sources admit, there is “another debate” that the Secretary General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus , made clear at the inauguration this week of the 74th Parliamentary Assembly of the organization, where he cried out against High-income countries are already thinking about vaccinating their youngest population – who usually have asymptomatic Covid and rarely have complications – when countries in the rest of the world cannot protect their most vulnerable population or their health workers.
This aspect, the vaccination of adolescents, was one of the criticisms that Ghebreyesus and representatives of low and middle income countries launched against the ‘first world’, which in his opinion “monopolizes” vaccines regardless of the fact that the rest cannot vaccinate and without spreading the doses “evenly”. “75% of vaccines” are available “only in 10 countries in the world,” he denounced.
“Ideally, the entire vulnerable population in all parts of the world should be vaccinated before, the elderly, the health workers, the chronically ill,” acknowledges Hernández-Merino who, however, does not believe that this is a process “parallel” to the adolescent vaccination. “It will not involve a transfer of vaccines to the countries with the greatest needs ” if it is not done.