EU approves use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children 12 and over in Europe

The European Commission authorised the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds on Friday, following the European Medicines Agency's approval of administering the jabs to adolescents earlier in the day.

EU approves use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children 12 and over in Europe
A nurse prepares a syringe with saline solution before it is diluted with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Evonik vaccination in Hanau, western Germany (Photo by THOMAS LOHNES / AFP)

This vaccine is already approved for people aged 16 and over in the EU.

Earlier this month, US regulators authorised the vaccine for children in the 12-to-15 age group, and it is now widely available.

The European Medicines Agency said that two doses of the vaccine would be needed in adolescents and should be given at least three weeks apart, which is the same guidance as for adult use.

Individual EU states would be able to decide whether or not they wanted to offer the vaccine to the 12 to 15-year-olds.

READ ALSO: Vaccines to be made available to children 12 and over in Germany starting June

Germany said on Thursday that it would start giving the vaccine to children from 12 to 15 from June 7th, which is when vaccine prioritisation for all adults is set to end in Germany.

READ ALSO: Covid jabs for children in Germany will be an ‘individual decision’, says Health Minister

Italy has also said it would extend its vaccination campaign to the over-12s, with approval from Italy’s regulator expected by Monday.

READ ALSO: Italy to open Covid jab appointments to all over-16s from June 3rd

And Austrian capital Vienna was waiting for the EMA approval before opening up Covid-19 vaccination registrations to parents of 12- to 15-year-olds.

In Switzerland, meanwhile, children may be able to get vaccinated at the age of 10, even without their parents’ approval.

The EMA approval may help reassure parents when children go back to face-to-face teaching, but the issue is not without controversy.

A few figures in the medical community have said there is not yet enough evidence to support vaccines and their potential side effects in younger people, while others believe older and vulnerable people in less wealthy countries should be prioritised over children.

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Italian tourism minister charged with Covid-era fraud

Prosecutors on Friday charged Italy's tourism minister with fraud relating to government redundancy funds claimed by her publishing companies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Italian tourism minister charged with Covid-era fraud

Opposition lawmakers immediately requested the resignation of Daniela Santanche, a leading member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party.

Santanche, 63, has strongly rejected the allegations, including in a defiant appearance in parliament last year.

“The Milan prosecutor’s office today requested the indictment of the Minister Santanche and other persons as well as the companies Visibilia Editore and Visibilia Concessionaria,” the office said in a brief statement.

They were indicted “for alleged fraud of the INPS (National Institute for Social Security) in relation to alleged irregularities in the use of the Covid 19 redundancy fund, for a total of 13 employees”.

According to media reports, Visibilia is accused of obtaining state funds intended to help companies struggling with the pandemic to temporarily lay off staff — when in fact the 13 employees continued to work.

Santanche sold her stake in Visibilia when she joined the government of Meloni, who took office in October 2022.

The investigation has been going on for months, but with the decision by prosecutors to indict, opposition parties said Santanche should resign.

“We expect the prime minister to have a minimum of respect for the institutions and ask for Daniela Santanche’s resignation,” said Elly Schlein, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party.