The European Union's health regulator on Thursday (Feb 24) backed giving a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 and over, as well as the expanded use of Moderna's shot in children ages six to 11.
The recommendations by the European Medicine Agency's (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use will be followed by final decisions by the European Commission.
The moves come after several EU countries already started to offer booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to teens.
Germany's vaccine committee in January recommended all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a booster, following the initial two-shot course. Other nations in the region followed suit.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a report this month that 10 countries in the European Economic Area, which comprises the 27 EU member states plus Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway, had already recommended a booster dose for those under 18 years of age.
Member States' decision on whether and when to offer boosters in this age group will need to take into account factors such as the spread and likely severity of the disease in younger persons and the known risk of side effects like the rare heart complication myocarditis, the EMA said.
The agency on Thursday also recommended approval of Moderna's COVID vaccine for use in children aged 6 to 11.
Moderna's Spikevax COVID-19 shot is already approved for use in adults and children aged 12 and over in Europe.
In the United States, the Moderna vaccine is authorised as a primary two-dose regimen and booster dose for adults 18 years and older. The company has yet to win clearance for use in younger age groups.
The dose of Spikevax in 6- to 11-year-olds will be 50 micrograms instead of the 100 micrograms used for people aged 12 and over, the EMA said.
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